Facial Trauma

The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon trains for years in the proper treatment of facial injuries. These professionals must be well versed in emergency care, acute treatment and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation not just for physical reasons but emotional as well. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained, skilled and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. Injuries to the face, by their very nature, impart a high degree of emotional, as well as physical trauma to patients. The science and art of treating these injuries requires special training involving a hands on experience and an understanding of how the treatment provided will influence the patient’s long term function and appearance.

Dr. Heggland meets and exceeds these modern standards. They are trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. Dr. Heggland is the Chief of Surgery at the St Anthony’s Summit Medical Center and provides emergency coverage for patients with facial injuries, which include the following conditions:

  • Facial Trauma animationFacial lacerations
  • Intra-oral lacerations
  • Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose or eye socket)

The Nature Of Maxillofacial Trauma

There are a number of possible causes of facial trauma such as motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence, and work-related injuries. Types of facial injuries can range from injuries of teeth to extremely severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face. Typically, facial injuries are classified as either soft tissue injuries (skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, facial nerves or the salivary glands).

Soft Tissue Injuries Of The Maxillofacial Region

When soft tissue injuries such as lacerations occur on the face, they are repaired by suturing. In addition to the obvious concern of providing a repair that yields the best cosmetic result possible, care is taken to inspect for and treat injuries to structures such as facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts (or outflow channels). Dr. Heggland is a well-trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon and is proficient at diagnosing and treating all such types of facial lacerations.

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Bone Injuries Of The Maxillofacial Region

Fractures of the bones of the face are treated in a manner similar to the fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors, which include the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, the age, and general health of the patient. When an arm or a leg is fractured, a cast is often applied to stabilize the bone to allow for proper healing. Since a cast cannot be placed on the face, other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.

Most fractures of the jaws and other facial bones are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This technique of treatment can often allow for healing and obviates the necessity of having the jaws wired together. This technique is called “rigid fixation” of a fracture. The relatively recent development and use of rigid fixation has profoundly improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly.Only rarely does treating such injuries involve wiring the jaws together.

The treatment of facial fractures should be accomplished in a thorough and predictable manner. More importantly, the patient’s facial appearance should be minimally affected. An attempt at accessing the facial bones through the fewest incisions necessary is always made. At the same time, the incisions that become necessary, are designed to be small and, whenever possible, are placed so that the resultant scar is hidden.

Injuries To The Teeth & Surrounding Dental Structures

Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral surgeons usually are involved in treating fractures in the tooth-supporting bone. These types of injuries can be treated by one of a number of forms of splinting (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together).

In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are now utilized as replacements for missing teeth. This advance in patient care has led to more predictable, longer-lasting, more cost-effective, and more esthetic results for the patient who loses a tooth or teeth to trauma than the now antiquated attempt to “re-implant” such teeth.

The treatment of facial injuries is now the realm of specialists who are well versed in emergency care, acute treatment, long-term reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the patient.