Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons undergo extensive and rigorous training during a 4-6 year residency program to learn how to evaluate and treat facial soft tissue and bony 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. 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. Spanganberg meets and exceeds these standards. He has been trained, and is skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. He is on staff at multiple local hospitals and is able to deliver emergency room coverage for facial injuries, which include the following conditions:
- Facial lacerations
- Intra oral lacerations
- Avulsed (knocked out) teeth
- Fractured facial bones (forehead, cheek, nose or eye socket)
- Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)
For more information about treating facial injuries or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Spanganberg, call our Gilbert office at ☎ or our Yuma office at ☎ .
The Nature of Maxillofacial Trauma
There are a number of possible causes of facial trauma such as motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, animal bites, interpersonal violence, and work-related injuries. Types of facial injuries can range from injuries to the teeth to extremely severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face. Typically, facial injuries are classified as either soft tissue injuries (skin or gum tissue), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, the sinuses, facial nerves or the salivary glands).
Soft Tissue Injuries of the Face, Neck and Scalp
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. Spanganberg through his extensive training has had experience treating the full range of soft tissue injuries to the face, neck and scalp.
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.
One of these options involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. Depending on the location, nature and severity of the fracture the surgical placement of small plates and screws may be required. This technique is called “rigid internal 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 much quicker.
The treatment of facial fractures should be accomplished in a manner that attempts to recreate form and function. An attempt at accessing the facial bones through the fewest incisions necessary is always made. At the same time, the required incisions 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 ultimately require the expertise of various dental specialists. Dr. Spanganberg is usually involved in treating fractures of the supporting bone or in replanting teeth that have been displaced or knocked out. These types of injuries are usually treated by a form of splinting (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together). If a tooth is knocked out, it should be immediately placed in saline (salt water) or milk. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted back into the socket, the better chance it will survive. When this type of injury occurs it is essential to seek out a dentist or an oral surgeon as soon as possible. Never attempt to wipe the tooth off, since remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth. Other dental specialists may be called upon such as endodontists, who may be asked to perform root canal therapy, and/or restorative dentists who may need to repair or rebuild fractured teeth. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are utilized as replacements for missing teeth.