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Reducing Facial Fracture Risks in Auto Accidents

A high percentage of facial fractures are due to motor vehicle accidents. Violent contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, car seats or other objects in the car can result in broken bones and other serious injuries to the face.


The good news is that you can take action to reduce your risk of serious facial injuries.

According to recent research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Facial Plastic Surgery, using air bags and seat belts cuts the risk of facial fractures significantly.

Facial Fractures Are Common in Auto Accidents

Over the last several years, we’ve seen technological improvements in airbags and changes in seat belt use. The JAMA study’s authors evaluated the impact of these advances in preventing facial fractures.

Studying data from the National Trauma Data Bank, the authors found that, of the 518,106 people treated at trauma centers after auto accidents between 2007 and 2012, roughly 11 percent had at least one fracture to a facial bone.

Nasal fractures topped the list, affecting 5.6 percent of vehicle collision victims. Midface fractures came in next at 3.8 percent, followed by orbital and jaw fractures at 2.6 and 2.2 percent, respectively. Panfacial fractures, or those encompassing the lower, middle and upper face, made up 0.8 percent, and another 3.2 percent were categorized as other types of breaks.

How Air Bags and Seat Belts Affect Your Odds of Facial Fracture

The researchers then compared the data on facial bone breaks with the use of protective devices to evaluate the effect of using air bags and seat belts.

The data revealed that 9.3 percent of the injured patients in the study used both air bags and seat belts. Another 5.8 percent had air bag protection, but failed to buckle up. Seat belts alone were used by 26.9 percent, while 57.6 percent used no protective device at all.

After analyzing the information, the study authors estimated that using a seat belt and driving a car equipped with an air bag and can reduce the likelihood of facial fractures by 53 percent.

No air bags in your vehicle? Buckle up, and you’ll decrease your chance by 43 percent. If you rely on your air bag alone for protection, you’ll be 18 percent less likely to suffer a fracture to the face.

Who Is Most at Risk for Facial Fractures in Auto Accidents?

Anyone involved in a motor vehicle collision is at risk for fractures and other serious injuries to the face. However, the researchers noticed some important patterns among victims.

The data suggests that younger accident victims are more likely to suffer fractures to the face as a result of a car crash. These injuries are also more common in males. Collisions involving alcohol or impaired driving are also more likely to result in facial bone breaks.

The surgeons and professional treatment team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah are trained, certified and experienced in treating all types of oral and facial trauma. Based in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, we are committed to providing a full range of services for your entire family, from oral and maxillofacial surgery to wisdom tooth extractions and dental implants. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation regarding the treatment of facial fractures.

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