Facial trauma is an injury of the face. It may include the facial bones such as the upper jaw bone (maxilla).
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OMSs) are experts in treating and repairing facial injury and trauma, including fractures of the upper and lower jaws and the orbits surrounding the eyes, and facial lacerations. Their knowledge of how jaws come together (dental occlusion) is critical when repairing complex facial fractures.
Facial injuries can affect the upper jaw, lower jaw, cheek, nose, eye socket, or forehead. They may be caused by blunt force or be the result of a wound.
Common causes of injury to the face include:
- Car and motorcycle crashes
- Sports injuries
Symptoms may include:
- Changes in feeling over the face
- Deformed or uneven face or facial bones
- Difficulty breathing through the nose due to swelling and bleeding
- Double vision
- Missing teeth
- Swelling or bruising around the eyes that may cause vision problems
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam, which may show:
- Bleeding from the nose, eyes, or mouth
- Nasal blockage
- Breaks in the skin (lacerations)
- Bruising around the eyes or widening of the distance between the eyes, which may mean injury to the bones between the eye sockets
- Changes in vision or the movement of the eyes
- Improperly aligned upper and lower teeth
The following may suggest bone fractures:
- Abnormal feelings on the cheek
- Irregularities of the face that can be felt by touching
- Movement of the upper jaw when the head is still
A CT scan of the head and bones of the face may be done.
Surgery is done if the injury prevents normal functioning or causes a major deformity.
The goal of treatment is to:
- Control bleeding
- Create a clear airway
- Treat the fracture and fix broken bone segments
- Prevent scars, if possible
- Prevent long-term double vision or sunken eyes or cheek bones
- Rule out other injuries
Treatment should be done as soon as possible if the person is stable and does not have a neck fracture.
- First aid for bleeding
- Facial injuries can bleed a lot even if they are minor injuries. Stop any bleeding from the nose camera.gif, mouth, or face so you can see what the injury is. Crying increases blood flow to the face and can make a nosebleed or facial bleeding worse. If your injured child is crying, speak in a quiet, relaxed manner to soothe him or her.
- First aid for a suspected broken bone
Do not move misshapen facial bones. It may make an injury worse, increase bleeding, or cause more problems.
- Apply an ice or cold pack immediately to prevent or minimize swelling.
- Seek medical evaluation and treatment.
Measures to reduce pain, swelling, and bruising
- Use ice. Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply warmth to the area that hurts.
- Keep your head elevated, even while you sleep. This will help reduce swelling.
- For the first 48 hours, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs or hot packs, or drinking alcohol or hot fluids.
Do not take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the first 24 hours. Aspirin prolongs the clotting time of blood and may cause more nose or facial bleeding.
Eat soft foods and cold foods and fluids to reduce jaw and mouth pain. Avoid hot foods or beverages, which may increase swelling around the mouth.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following symptoms occur during home treatment:
- Numbness or tingling develop.
- Changes in vision develop, such as double vision or blurring.
- Signs of infection develop.
- Pain and swelling continue or get worse.
- Symptoms become more severe or frequent.
Healthdirect.gov.au, medlineplus.gov, myoms.org, webmd.com.