How Do Facial Fractures Affect My Teeth?

How Do Facial Fractures Affect My Teeth?

smiling person on a white backgroundFacial fractures are any broken bones in the face, including the eye socket, lower jaw, upper jawbone, nose bone, or frontal bone. Because these bones are complex and fragile, complications often arise when one or more bones are broken. Often, broken face bones lead to problems with your teeth.

Why are Facial Injuries So Traumatic?

The chance of medical complications resulting from broken bones is more likely in the face than in any other area of the body. Because these bones and the surrounding areas are both fragile and complex, you are more likely to develop other problems connected to the initial or primary injury.

The most common facial fractures are broken nasal bones, followed closely by mandibular fractures, which involve the lower jawbone. Because the lower jawbone is on the lower half of the face and protrudes forward, it often sustains the most damage. However, a blow to the upper half of the face may also break the upper jaw, often in conjunction with a fractured nasal bone. Most broken jawbones occur due to traffic accidents, physical fights, or sports injuries.

Broken Jawbones and Dental Trauma

The jawbone supports your teeth. When the jawbone is broken, the foundation for the teeth it holds is damaged. There are three ways a broken jawbone may affect your teeth:

Bite Problems

After breaking your jaw, you may notice that your teeth are no longer aligned properly. When you close your mouth, your lower teeth may not meet your upper teeth because they have shifted slightly to the side or forward. Over time, damage to your teeth will become evident due to uneven wear and difficulty chewing.

TMJ Problems

Even people who have never injured their jawbones can develop temporomandibular joint disorders. Still, those who have broken their jaw are much more likely to have problems with this complex joint. This joint and the surrounding muscles and ligaments control how well you bite, chew, and speak. Facial fractures often lead to scarring, shifting, and inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, resulting in pain and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. TMJ disorders can lead to teeth grinding, uneven wear, and broken teeth.

Broken or Loose Teeth

The teeth absorb some of the force of the initial injury and may split, break, or crack as a result. Because the jawbone supports the teeth, when the jawbone is fractured, the break line may run directly through the location of the roots of the teeth. Some teeth may not break but become loose because of the way the jaw breaks, opening space in the bone immediately surrounding the teeth. Broken or loose teeth may lead to infection and the need to extract the affected teeth.

What To Do if You Think Your Jaw is Broken

If you suspect a broken jaw, see your doctor or go to the emergency room or trauma center immediately. You will usually be referred to an oral surgeon to determine the severity of the break and develop a treatment plan. Treatment may involve oral surgery, wiring the jaw, or stabilizing the joints and bones. In severe cases, the damage around the teeth may be so severe that some teeth have to be extracted. Implants and prostheses can replace the missing teeth once the jawbone is fully healed.

The doctors and surgeons at Park East Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery are experienced in treating the trauma of facial fractures and the surrounding bones, muscles, and soft tissues. Their care and attention can ensure your broken jawbone heals with little or no damage to your teeth if possible. When there is unavoidable damage to the teeth, our doctors can advise the best way to repair or restore the damaged teeth and joints.

If you have questions or suspect you have a broken jawbone, contact our office at 212-593-2930. We will schedule your appointment with one of our skilled oral surgeons as soon as possible to create a treatment plan that includes saving your teeth.