Facial trauma has serious effects on our appearance, breathing, smelling, seeing, swallowing and talking. The nose, jaws, teeth, and ears must be in good working order for us to function normally.
- Injuries to the face usually involve the nose, since it protrudes outward from the face. The nasal bones are light and are more fragile than other bones of the face. A broken nose can lead to significant bleeding, sometimes enough to require hospital admission. If a nasal fracture causes a change in the outward shape of the nose, repositioning of the bones is usually required.
- Other facial bones are less likely to be injured. The jaw bone, or mandible, is large and may be broken after an accident. A broken jaw makes it difficult or impossible to eat and speak. Fractures in adults usually require repair, either with arch bars to put the mandible at rest or with wires to bring the broken edges together.
- Fractures of the malar (cheek) area lead to cosmetic deformities, as the cheek bone sinks inward after the bone is injured. Nerves to the middle portion of the face can be stretched or torn and cause numbness. The eye socket may collapse into the maxillary sinus, causing loss of movement of the eye ball with resultant double vision.
- Fractures of the temporal bone (the bone that houses the ear and hearing structures) can be very serious. Not only does this bone contain the organs of hearing and balance, which can cause dizziness or deafness, but also there may be injury to the facial nerve, causing paralysis of the face or damage to the coverings of the brain.
- Most significant facial fractures require surgery to restore function and appearance. Delays in treatment can cause permanent loss of function of breathing, smell, vision, chewing, speaking and hearing.