Facial trauma: how dangerous are skiing and snowboarding?

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Feb;68(2):293-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2009.09.072.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate maxillofacial injuries sustained in both skiing and snowboarding accidents and correlate injury mechanisms and patterns evaluating a large population.

Materials and methods: Between 1991 and 2003, all patients with maxillofacial injuries due to skiing and snowboarding accidents (1,393 cases) were reviewed and statistically analyzed according to age, gender, type of injury, cause of accident, location of trauma, and associated injuries.

Results: Skiing accidents resulted in a total of 1,250 injuries, and snowboarding resulted in 143. In this study 686 skiers presented with 1,452 facial bone fractures and 80 snowboarders sustained 160 fractures of the face. Skiers had dentoalveolar trauma in 810 cases and 1,295 soft tissue injuries, whereas snowboarders had 88 dental injuries and 187 soft tissue lesions. Mechanisms of injury included 542 cases due to skiing and 85 falls due to snowboarding (a 1.79-fold higher risk for snowboarders). The gender distribution showed a male-female ratio of 3:1 in skiers and 5.5:1 in snowboarders. In both groups male patients were more prone to have a facial bone fracture than female patients. Snowboarders aged between 10 and 29 years had a 2.14-fold higher risk of sustaining a maxillofacial injury than skiers.

Conclusions: In both groups facial bone fractures occurred more often in male patients, and they were more likely to result from falls and collisions with other persons. Young snowboarders had a higher risk of maxillofacial injuries (especially soft tissue lesions) than skiers, whereas for children and old persons, skiing posed a much higher risk. Wearing a helmet while skiing and snowboarding should be mandatory to prevent serious trauma to the head.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Facial Injuries / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Ratio
  • Skiing / injuries
  • Skull Fractures / etiology*
  • Snow Sports / injuries*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / etiology
  • Tooth Injuries / etiology
  • Young Adult