The epidemiology of facial trauma may vary widely across countries (and even within the same country), and is dependent on several cultural and socioeconomic factors. We know of few reviews of published reports that have considered the sex distribution and aetiology of maxillofacial trauma throughout the world. The aim of this review was to discuss these aspects as they have been presented in papers published during the last 30 years. We made a systematic review of papers about the epidemiology of maxillofacial trauma that were published between January 1980 and December 2013 and identified 69 studies from Africa (n=9), North America and Brazil (n=6), Asia (n=36), Europe (n=16), and Oceania (n=2). In all the studies men outnumbered women, the ratio usually being more than 2:1. In American, African, and Asian studies road traffic crashes were the predominant cause. In European studies the aetiology varied, with assaults and road traffic crashes being the most important factors. In Oceania assaults were the most important. A comparison of the incidence of maxillofacial trauma of different countries together with a knowledge of different laws (seat belts for drivers, helmets for motocyclists, speed limits, and protection worn during sports and at work) is crucial to allow for improvement in several countries. To our knowledge this paper is the first attempt to study and compare the aetiologies of maxillofacial trauma.