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Avoiding the most common causes of facial trauma

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, around three million Americans undergo treatment each year for maxillofacial (facial) trauma. Facial trauma includes any physical trauma to the face that causes damage to soft tissues, teeth or bones. Understanding the most common causes of facial trauma can help you avoid these situations and take necessary safety precautions to help lower your risk of injury.

Playing contact or combat sports

Athletes who play aggressive contact sports or who participate in martial arts are at increased risk of facial injury. It’s important to always wear a mouthguard and use other safety equipment, even during practice and non-competitive situations. Accidents during sports not traditionally considered to be contact activities are very common, as a flying elbow or errant ball can lead to injury.

Work accidents

Occupational injuries are a common cause of facial trauma. Always follow safety protocols in the workplace and use all supplied safety equipment, including safety goggles.

Automobile collisions

Car accidents can lead to facial fractures and lacerations from contact against the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield or side window. Along with safe, defensive driving, your best protection against facial injury in the car is to wear your seatbelt at all times. It’s also important to ensure that all airbags are in working condition.

Slips and falls

Accidents can happen anywhere. Be sure to keep your floor clear of obstructions and tripping hazards at home and stay aware of your surroundings when visiting public places. Common locations for slips and falls include supermarkets, restaurants and other places where food or slippery substances may have spilled.

Wheeled activities

Bicycling, skateboarding and rollerblading are solo activities that should be treated as contact sports. Always wear a helmet when flying along on wheels, and consider wearing a mouthguard, too. A helmet can also protect you in other fast-moving sports, such as skiing or river kayaking.

When to see an oral surgeon

For many types of oral injuries, the sooner you get treatment, the more likely you are to achieve  great results. If you’re at all concerned that your injury is serious, you’re better off getting x-rays and being examined than finding out later that you should have seen an oral surgeon.