Facial Trauma

Fractures in the face and jaw area can cause you pain and concern. Will my face look the same after it heals? When will my pain subside? The team at Bay Area OSM realizes that these types of injuries come with many unknowns. Our expert oral surgeons will provide you with answers and the care you deserve. If you suspect a fracture, call any of our offices or book your appointment online.

What are common causes of facial fractures?

Facial fractures occur because of sudden impacts to the facial area. The bones in the face are some of the most commonly fractured in the entire body. The major bones in the face are the forehead, known also as the frontal bone, the cheekbones, or zygomas, the eye sockets, or orbital bones, the two jawbones, including the upper jaw (maxillary) and lower jaw (mandible) and finally, the nasal bones.  The jaw area is especially at risk because it sticks out from your face making it a high-risk fracture area especially in face forward falls.

Some common causes of facial fractures include:

  • Sports injuries (especially high impact sports like football, boxing, baseball, and basketball)
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Work injuries (i.e. construction and manual labor)
  • Bone loss
  • Certain oral pathology (i.e. cancer and periodontal disease)
  • Physical assault

Our Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons treat facial fractures occurring in your jaw, cheeks, and orbital bone areas.

Will my face look the same after a fracture?

As long as you get prompt care, and after the swelling subsides, your face will return to its normal appearance. It is important to visit one of our Bay Area OSM offices after any impact to the face so that our providers can examine you. Using the latest in medical diagnostic technologies, our team can spot and treat even the smallest of fractures. Time is of the utmost importance as your fracture needs to be set so your bone repairs itself correctly.


You would run a great risk if you were to let a facial injury heal on its own, regardless of the intensity of pain. Without professional help, a facial injury could lead to permanent damage or could even put your life at risk. The facial skeleton is a delicate structure that contains many channels for the nerves responsible for smell, sight, and touch. If the injury is left to heal on its own and there is a fracture, the bones could impede the nerves and cause a loss in sensation. Jaw bone fractures can cause breathing difficulties as well as impact the ability to chew and swallow. Also, due to the proximity of the face to the central nervous system, facial injuries can sometimes damage or affect the spinal cord.

How do you repair facial fractures?

Treatment is designed to match the location and severity of your fracture. If it’s a small fracture in your jaw, it might be wired shut to keep the bones immobile while you heal. Larger fractures to your jaw, cheek, or eye area might need plates installed with small surgical screws to strengthen and support your bone regrowth.

You should start feeling better within a few weeks, but it’s best to avoid any activity where you risk a blow to your face like sports for at least six to eight weeks so your bone can fully heal.

Frequently Asked Questions


While it may take a relatively short time for your face to return to its normal appearance, it may take many weeks or even months for the full sensation to return to your face. There is also a possibility that the sensation only returns partially or not at all. The nerves related to touch, smell and pain run through small channels in the face. Damage to the bone can prevent these nerves from passing signals to the brain for a limited time. Only when the bone is fully healed will the nerves return to their normal function.


Oral surgeons have developed many techniques that allow them to treat many facial fractures without needing to make any incisions in the skin. Facial injuries that require incisions can be made inside the mouth or inside the lower eyelid. For example, many fractures in the jaw, cheekbones or orbital bones can be reached without making incisions in the face. Only when the facial fracture is severe may there be a necessity to make an incision in the face. However, it's most likely that the surgeon will be able to access the bones in more discrete areas such as behind the hairline or inside a skin fold below the chin. Once healed, the incision will be unnoticeable. If a patient is concerned about a visible scar then there are many laser treatments that can be used to reduce their visibility.

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