It used to be that we would see most of our sports-related facial trauma patients in the fall and winter, when sports participation typically reached its highest point. But nowadays, we see a steady stream of sports injuries to the face in our office year-round. Because more children, teens and adults participate in sports in all four seasons (which is great), we see more sports-related facial injuries now than ever before (not so great). Not only is the face the most vulnerable part of the body during a game, it is also almost always under-protected. Facial injuries account for about 11-40 percent of all sports injuries. Even in a “no-contact” or “less-contact” sport where player-to-player injuries are rare, a person can still be hit by a ball, bat, club or other item and experience trauma to the face. Two types of sports-related facial traumas make up the majority of cases we see:
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Lacerations are a common type of injury when playing a variety of sports. In addition to cleaning and suturing the cut, we also pay special attention to providing for the best possible cosmetic result and thoroughly examining any nerves, glands and ducts that may have been injured.
- T-Zone Fractures: Also very common with sports injuries are fractures of the nose, zygoma (cheek bone) and mandible (jaw). Because we can’t put a cast on the face, sometimes fractures must be stabilized using wires, screws and plates.
- Mouth Guards: Simple, inexpensive and increasingly mandatory in many sports, mouth guards are the first defense against injury to the tooth, and may even help to lessen or prevent concussions!
- Face Masks: As time goes on, you will see more and more sports, most recently softball, requiring facemasks to protect young players.