Few things can be as traumatic as a serious facial injury. Going beyond the obvious pain and potential inconvenience such an injury can cause, the result can include long-term disability, loss of sensory function, and even psychological ramifications. Trauma to the face can affect how an individual communicates, how they perceive the world, and how they perceive themselves.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of these types of injuries is the fact that so many of them are preventable. Consider some statistics:
- Annually, American emergency rooms receive over 130 million visits, nearly a third of which are injury-related. That’s approximately 10% of the U.S. population being severely injured every year.
- Of these visits, over 2.6 million involve facial injuries of some form.
- For children, teens, and young adults, sports and other recreational activities accounted for the majority of facial injuries.
- For adults over the age of 19, causes leaned more toward motor vehicle accidents, domestic accidents, work-related accidents, and violence.
- For seniors, falls accounted for the majority of facial injuries with the prevalence of facial trauma rising consistently with the patient’s age.
Considering how many people suffer facial trauma each year due to largely preventable causes, it’s important to stay vigilant to avoid these injuries whenever possible. Here are some useful tips you can put into practice immediately to protect yourself and others from facial injuries:
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s actually vitally important and far too few people consider it until they learn the lesson the hard way.
Whatever you’re doing—from running to the basement to running a marathon—take the extra few moments required to make sure you’re doing so safely.
For minor injuries, many people have humorous stories to tell about how they hurt themselves: running into walls, running into doors, slamming their heads on low pipes, etc. Of course, it’s no laughing matter if the injury ends up being serious.
So, if one way to avoid an injury is by slowing down and assessing your surroundings, why wouldn’t you do so? The same principle applies to when you’re playing sports, driving a car, or doing anything else that can be potentially dangerous.
Wear protective gear
Contact sports, like football and ice hockey, as well as certain occupations, are more prone to facial injuries than others, which is why special protective gear has been designed to limit or eliminate the risk to participants.
Logically, then, if you engage in these activities without wearing the proper gear or without ensuring the gear you’re wearing is sized and functioning properly, you’re more likely to be hurt.
Nearly all organized contact sports—from Little League to the professional level—have strict rules in place to ensure protective gear is worn properly and consistently. Likewise, OSHA and other safety-focused regulations require the same vigilance at the workplace when employees are engaged in a potentially dangerous activity. As a result, a relatively small number of facial injuries occur under these circumstances.
There are unfortunately no such rules or regulations in place to force do-it-yourselfers and weekend warriors to exercise the same caution. And that’s where most emergency facial injuries are coming from: a softball that takes an unexpected bounce into the shortstop’s teeth or a drill bit that breaks off and flies into the amateur handyman’s cheek.
No one would recommend you never play certain sports or never pick up a tool again. But, if there’s gear available that can provide protection—including simple items like mouthguards and safety glasses—take advantage of the opportunity to protect yourself.
Maintain regular medical and dental care
Like the other tips in this list, this one isn’t solely applicable to avoiding facial injuries. It’s more a matter of precaution and common sense: if you make a habit of visiting your family doctor and dentist for regular checkups, you give them the opportunity to note any troubling trends and to monitor the healing process if you do sustain an injury.
This valuable insight can help you avoid injuries you may be particularly prone to, choose the right style and fit of protective equipment for your unique circumstances, and ensure that any injuries you do experience (facial or otherwise) don’t cause unnecessary long-term pain and suffering.
Some people avoid preventive and routine medical or dental care because they’re not suffering from an acute health issue. But the cost of routine examinations and preventive care is really an investment in your long-term health and wellbeing. Plus, dental discount plans, healthcare insurance, and other optional programs can help offset that cost and make regular services more attainable.
Don’t become a statistic. Follow these tips and use common sense whether you’re walking your dog or running for the endzone, and you’ll keep yourself safe from injury and its long-term consequences.
Find out more about how you can show your teeth and your wallet some love with dental discounts in this post.