Dental injuries in association with facial fractures

Olivier Lieger, Jürgen Zix, Astrid Kruse, Tateyuki Iizuka
Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2009, 67 (8): 1680-4

PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to investigate the association between dental injuries and facial fractures.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a prospective study of 273 patients examined at a level 1 trauma center in Switzerland from September 2005 until August 2006 who had facial fractures. Medical history and clinical and radiologic examination findings were recorded to evaluate demographics, etiology, presentation, and type of facial fracture, as well as its relationship to dental injury site and type.

RESULTS: In 273 patients with dentition, we recorded 339 different facial fractures. Of these patients, 130 (47.5%) sustained a fracture in the non-tooth-bearing region, 44 (16%) had a fractured maxilla, and 65 (24%) had a fractured mandible. Among 224 patients with dentition who had a facial fracture in only 1 compartment, 140 injured teeth were found in 50 patients. Of 122 patients with an injury limited to the non-tooth-bearing facial skeleton, 12 sustained dental trauma (10%). In patients with fractures limited to the maxilla (n = 41), 6 patients had dental injuries (14.5%). In patients with fractures to the mandible (n = 61), 24 sustained dental injuries (39%). When we compared the type of tooth lesion and the location, simple crown fractures prevailed in both jaws. Patients with a fracture of the mandible were most likely to have a dental injury (39.3%). The highest incidence of dental lesions was found in the maxilla in combination with fractures of the lower jaw (39%). This incidence was even higher than the incidence of dental lesions in the lower jaw in combination with fractures of the mandible (24%).

CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge of the association of dental injuries and maxillofacial fractures is a basic tool for their prevention. Our study showed that in cases of trauma with mandibular fracture, the teeth in the upper jaw might be at higher risk than the teeth in the lower jaw. Further larger-scale studies on this topic could clarify this finding and may provide suggestions for the amelioration of safety devices (such as modified bicycle helmets).

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