Although fractures of the upper jaw (maxilla) are not as common as lower jaw fractures, they are frequently seen when there has been a fracture to the nose or any portion of the center of the face. Since the upper jaw bone plays an important role in supporting the middle of the face, a fracture in this region can also affect the bones of the nose and eyes, as well as contribute to fractured teeth.
Depending upon the extent and the type of fracture, oral and maxillofacial surgery may be required in order to correct the damage. There are three common types of facial fractures:
- A LeFort I fracture is a horizontal crack that separates part of the upper jaw bone and teeth from the rest of the facial bones.
- A LeFort II fracture, sometimes referred to as a “pyramidal” fracture, includes the upper jaw as well as the nasal complex.
- A LeFort III fracture, the most severe, describes fractured eye sockets and includes the bridge of the nose and is known as craniofacial separation.
The treatment for a fractured upper jaw often involves the realignment of the bones and also rigidly stabilizing them for the duration of the healing process. For more complex pan-facial fractures, the upper and lower jaws may be wired or bound together for additional support.
When the extent of the fracture is more complex, the upper jaw and the surrounding bones may need to be surgically repositioned and secured with small screws, pins, or metal plates. These metal appliances may be left in place temporarily or permanently, according to your oral surgeon’s recommendation.
The damage caused by a maxillary fracture can take several weeks or months to heal. During this time, most patients can expect to experience significant swelling and bruising. After the appropriate treatment has been performed, healing can begin to take place. Patients may be asked to adhere to a soft or liquid diet and refrain from strenuous activities in order to protect the surgical site.
To learn more about maxillofacial trauma and maxillary fractures, contact our dual degree oral and maxillofacial surgeons at ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio today.