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Definition

What are facial fractures?

Facial fractures are broken bones anywhere on the face. This includes the nose, cheekbones, the area around the eyes, and the upper and lower jaw.

Most of the time, they’re due to some kind of trauma to the face, like motor vehicle crashes, sporting injuries, falls, or fights. Sometimes, they happen because the bones in the face are weakened by a dental procedure or condition.

How common are facial fractures?

Facial fractures are common. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of facial fractures?

It depends on which bones in the face are broken. Some things, like pain, swelling, and bruising, are symptoms of any broken bone.

Here’s what you can expect to experience with the main types of facial fractures:

Broken nose (nasal fracture)

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bruising around the nose
  • Difficulty breathing

Forehead fracture (frontal bone)

  • The forehead may appear inverted (pushed inward)
  • Pain around the sinuses
  • Injuries to the eyes

Broken cheekbone/upper jaw (zygomatic maxillary fracture)

  • Flatness of the cheek
  • Altered sensation underneath the eye on the affected side
  • Problems with eyesight
  • Pain with jaw movement

Eye socket (orbital) fracture

This involves the bones of the eye socket. It usually happens when a blunt object such as a fist or a ball hits the eye.

  • A black eye
  • Redness or bleeding in the white of the eye
  • Blurry or decreased vision
  • Numbness in the forehead, eyelids, cheek, or upper lip/teeth
  • Swelling of the cheek or forehead

Broken jaw

 

  • Pain
  • Bruising, swelling, or tenderness along the jaw or below the ear
  • Inability to bring the teeth together properly (malocclusion)
  • Bruising under the tongue (almost always indicates a jaw fracture)
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Numbness in the lower lip or chin

Midface (maxillary) fracture:

The main symptom is swelling or deformity on the face.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have a facial injury, see your doctor as soon as possible. Some facial fractures can be life-threatening. Others can cause problems with your respiratory system, airway passages, central nervous system, or vision that can’t be reversed.

Causes

What causes facial fractures?

A facial fracture may occur when your face has been injured. Motor vehicle, motorcycle, or bicycle accidents can cause injuries that lead to a facial fracture. Facial fractures may also be caused by injuries that occur while playing sports, such as baseball and football. A jaw fracture can also occur if you are hit in the face during a physical attack.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for facial fractures?

Please consult your doctor for further information.

 

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are facial fractures diagnosed?

The physical examination and types of tests your doctor orders will depend on the type of injury you have.

Your doctor will examine your face for any signs of swelling and pain. He’ll also check for any changes in mobility (whether you’re able to move parts of your face). You’ll probably have X-rays taken. Most fractures will show up clearly on these tests.

How are facial fractures treated?

A facial fracture may be left to heal on its own if your broken bone stays in its normal position. Severe fractures may need to be treated. You may need any of the following:

Closed reduction:

During this procedure, your healthcare provider moves your broken bones back to their normal position. Closed reduction is often done when you have a broken nose. You will not need an incision for this procedure. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about closed reduction.

Endoscopy:

This test uses a scope to look inside your sinuses and eye socket. The scope is a long tube with a lens and light on the end. The scope is placed between your upper gums and lip and into the sinus behind your cheekbone. The scope may also be put through a small incision in your scalp and into the sinus behind your forehead. During an endoscopy, small pieces of your broken bone may be removed. Special devices may be used to support the broken bones in your face.

Medicines:

  • Decongestant medicine: Decongestants help decrease swelling in your nose and sinuses. This medicine may also help you breathe easier.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Steroid medicine: This medicine helps decrease swelling in your face.
  • Antibiotic medicine: Antibiotic medicine helps treat an infection caused by bacteria. This medicine may be given if you have an open wound.

Orthodontic treatment:

You may need to see a healthcare provider who fixes damaged or broken teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be done if your teeth do not line up correctly when you close your jaw after your injury.

Surgery:

  • Open reduction and internal fixation: This surgery is also called ORIF. During an ORIF, your healthcare provider makes an incision over your fracture site. Wires, screws, or plates are used to join your facial fracturess together. This surgery helps keep the bones from moving while they heal.
  • Reconstructive surgery: Reconstructive surgery may be needed to fix areas of your face that are misshapen by your injury. Your healthcare provider may need to remove pieces of your facial fracturess and replace them with a graft. A graft is healthy bone taken from another area of your body or from a donor (another person).

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage facial fractures?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with facial fractures:

Apply ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your face for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

Keep your head elevated: Keep you head above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your head on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Avoid putting pressure on your face:

  • Do not sleep on the injured side of your face. Pressure on the area of your injury may cause further damage.
  • Sneeze with your mouth open to decrease pressure on your facial fracturess. Too much pressure from a sneeze may cause your broken bones to move and cause more damage.
  • Try not to blow your nose because it may cause more damage if you have a fracture near your eye. The pressure from blowing your nose may pinch the nerve of your eye and cause permanent damage.

Clean your mouth carefully: It may be hard to clean your teeth if have an injury or fracture near your mouth. Your healthcare provider will show you the best way to do this so you do not hurt yourself. A water pick or a child-sized soft toothbrush may work well to clean your mouth.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

 

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: November 3, 2017 | Last Modified: November 3, 2017

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