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Maxillofacial trauma is any injury to the face or jaws. Facial trauma may present with skin lacerations, burns, obstruction to the nasal cavity or sinuses, damage to the orbital (eye) sockets, fracture to the jawbone, and missing or broken teeth. There are over three million cases of facial trauma admitted each year to emergency rooms in the United States. The most common causes are sports, accidents (automobile and workplace), penetrating injuries, and violence. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, bleeding, bruising, and numbness, while fractures to the facial bones may also result in difficulty breathing, speaking or seeing. Maxillofacial trauma may also involve serious or life threatening symptoms, such as brain injury, airway obstruction, excessive bleeding, or shock.

Treatment for maxillofacial trauma varies depending upon the type and severity of the injury. Treatment will include a careful and systematic evaluation of structure and systems, including a comprehensive physical exam and x-rays. In some cases, diagnosis and treatment must be deferred until swelling subsides or until more severe injuries are resolved.

At Mass General, oral and maxillofacial surgery house staff are on-call 24/7 to collaborate with emergency personal in the evaluation and treatment of patients with maxillofacial trauma.

Why Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons?

Treatment for facial trauma is complex and often involves airway control, bleeding control, reduction of swelling, prevention of infection, repair of bone fractures, repair of lacerations or soft tissue injury, and reconstruction. Mass General is one of only a few emergency rooms in New England that is staffed 24/7 with on-call oral and maxillofacial surgeons. The combination of dental and surgical training makes oral and maxillofacial surgeons uniquely skilled at restoring the aesthetics of facial proportions, the functionality of jaw joints and bites, and damaged or missing teeth.