Fall is a big season for sports fans and athletes. Football, soccer, basketball, and other sports are all beginning, which means now is the perfect time to learn about sports-related facial trauma injuries.
For most athletes, it’s impossible to avoid all possibility of facial injury. Facial injuries can occur because of collisions with other players, the ground, or even a ball. Further, the face is often the most vulnerable part of the body due to lack of protective gear. Below we’ve provided some information about common sports-related facial injuries and how oral and maxillofacial surgeons, like Dr. Junil Ahn at OC Oral Surgery, can help treat them. We want your season to be fun, healthy, and safe.
Common Sports-Related Facial Injuries:
Soft Tissue Injuries
Some cuts and bruises are treatable from the comfort of your own home, but after a head injury it’s vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible to make sure you don’t have a concussion or other brain injury. After a facial trauma, an ice pack can help reduce swelling and bruising. To slow bleeding of a wound, apply pressure with some gauze (changing the gauze once it becomes saturated). If heavy bleeding continues, you may need stitches. Fortunately, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in repairing all sorts of facial wounds.
Oral soft tissue injuries are more difficult to treat and are at higher risks of infection problems. Lacerations to the tongue, cheeks, and gums are often the result of sports-related falls and impacts. Your oral surgeon can fix severe oral lacerations with surgical adhesives or sutures. In addition, oral wounds often require proper cleaning and debridement to prevent infection problems.
Surgery may be required to treat fractures around the nose, cheekbones, and jaws. Oral surgeons can restore the function and aesthetics of your face by utilizing wires, metal plates, and screws to fix facial fractures. This treatment sometimes can be done in the outpatient office setting, but may require the surgery be done in a hospital operating room.
Jaw fracture treatment is different than other parts of the body because teeth are involved. It is important to not only set the bone in the proper place but also your teeth. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons with their surgical training in both medicine and dentistry are uniquely qualified to treat these type of fractures.
Chipped, cracked, or even completely knocked-out teeth can result from sports-related impacts. Never try to wipe off or sanitize a tooth that has been knocked out because the tissues attached to the tooth are important for replacement. Put the tooth in a container with some saliva or whole milk and see a dental professional immediately (within 30 minutes, if possible). The sooner you can see a dental professional, the better the chances of saving the tooth.
If you have been missing a tooth or multiple teeth for an extended period of time, or your tooth cannot be restored following an injury, we offer various replacement options, such as the placement of dental implants and full-arch restoration, and we encourage you to contact our office for more information.
Preventing Facial Injuries
Wearing all of the recommended protective gear, mouth guards, and/or face shields for your sport can help lessen the risk of injury. This rule applies during practice as well, as these injuries can happen at any time when you’re participating in sports. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand at sports events. We hope you have a great season, and stay safe! Contact us today if you would like additional information about the procedures we offer.