dr. barrett

What You Should Know About Jaw Reconstruction Surgery

 

Sometimes jaw problems may require more than orthodontic treatment. Jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic (or-thog-NATH-ik) surgery, can be a great choice for moderate to severe jaw issues. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OMS) are specially trained in orthognathic surgery that can dramatically improve chewing, speaking, breathing, and in the process enhance a patient’s appearance. If you are considering orthognathic surgery, here are some important things to know.

Why You May Need It. Most conditions that require corrective surgery are the result of abnormal growth of the jaws as they develop. These conditions are often inherited. Other less common causes are facial injury or arthritis of the jaw joints.

Orthognathic surgery may be indicated for the following conditions:

-Difficulty biting, chewing or swallowing food

-Excessive wear or breakdown of teeth

-Chronic jaw or jaw joint pain caused by TMJ (temporomandWhat-to-Know-Jaw-Surgery-2ibular joint disorder) or other jaw problems

-Improve “gummy” smiles, where the lips don’t fully close and show large areas of the gums or “toothless” smiles, where the lips cover all of the teeth

-Facial imbalance, including underbites, overbites, crossbites, and deficient chins

-Sleep apnea

Treatment Team. While we will plan and perform the actual surgery, we will also be working with your dentist and orthodontist for the full course of treatment. Most treatment includes braces for 9 to 18 months before surgery to level and align your teeth. After your jaw heals from surgery, which typically takes about 6 weeks, your orthodontist will finish your alignment and remove the braces. Depending on the severity of your jaw problem, the entire treatment process can take from 12 to 24 months. We know that this is a long-term commitment and we will do our best to minimize the length of treatment and provide you with the best estimates of what will be required.

What to Expect. Jaw surgery can be performed on the upper jaw, lower jaw or both. It is best to perform the surgery after growth stops, usually ages 13 to 15 for females and 16 to 18 for males. Jaw surgery usually can be performed entirely inside your mouth, so no facial scars show. Once your jaws are properly aligned, screws and bone plates secure the bones into their new position. In some cases, extra bone may be added to the jaw. In this case, we transfer the bone from your hip, leg or rib and secure it with temporary wires.

Surgery can take place in an in-patient or outpatient setting, depending on the procedure required. Facial swelling, while variable, is common and increases for a couple of days following surgery before it subsides. More subtle changes in your appearance will continue for up to a year. For this reason, our students generally choose to have the surgery during school vacations. For adults, one to three weeks is usually required before returning to work.

Jaw surgery can enhance your comfort, appearance, and improve your overall health. We are here to answer any questions you have. Please make an appointment for a consultation so we can review the potential of this life changing treatment with you!

Oral Cancer Self-Screening: Why Everybody’s Doing It (Or Should Be)

 

Oral cancer has a bad reputation for being more deadly than some other forms of cancer that you hear of more commonly. We are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Oral cancer goes unnoticed, not because it is difficult to see or feel, but because the idea of regular oral cancer screenings (either at home or in our office) is rather new. It simply has not been on the public health radar until now.

That is why we want to get the word out, and we need your help! Examining the neck, throat and oral cavity is a relatively simple task when compared to other parts of the body such as internal organs. Early diagnosis leads to better prognosis!

We recommend that once a month, you give yourself the following exam. It should only take 2-3 minutes and could save your life, or the life of a loved one!

First, a word about the ever-changing mouth: We know that many patients avoid self-exams because the mouth is one area of the body that has constant change going on. For example, you may have a recent burn, bite or cold sore and probably don’t want to bother us every time you notice these things! That is why we offer this rule of thumb: any suspicious area that is not better after 14 days should be brought to our attention.

How to perform an Oral Cancer Self Exam:

  1. Use a mirror and a bright light.
  2. Remove dentures.
  3. Look and feel lips and front of gums. Grasp lips with your thumb and forefinger and feel for lumps.
  4. Tilt your head back and inspect the roof of your mouth
  5. Pull your cheek out to see the inside surface and gums in the rear.
  6. Pull out your tongue and look at all surfaces.
  7. Feel your neck and under the lower jaw for enlarged lymph nodes, swelling or lumps.

What are you looking for?

  1. White patches
  2. Red Patches
  3. Combination of red and white patches
  4. Sores
  5. Abnormal lumps or thickening
  6. Chronic sore throat/hoarseness
  7. Difficulty chewing/swallowing
  8. Masses or lumps in the neck

Facial Injuries: What Do I Do?

It’s important to know what to do when you or someone close to you has been injured, especially when it comes to facial injuries. The inside of your mouth is made up of delicate soft tissues that when cut can become infected and easily damaged if the wound isn’t taken care of quickly. Anyone who has had a facial laceration knows that there is a high degree of emotional and physical pain involved when it comes to a facial laceration. So what should you do?

A laceration is a tear or jagged wound and is usually caused by blunt trauma. If you’ve been in an accident and there is any kind of trauma to your face, it is important to seek emergency assistance right away. Lip lacerations are one of the most common types of facial injuries and require careful repair. LaceratioFacial-Injuriesns are closed using silk or gut sutures and are done carefully in order to prevent any cosmetic damage. If a tooth is knocked out you should place it in salt water or milk as soon as possible. The sooner the tooth is placed back into the dental socket, the better chance it has of surviving. Do not clean or wipe off the tooth since there are crucial parts of the tooth that could become damaged.

Replanting teeth and treating tooth fractures can be handled by an oral surgeon along with facial trauma but if you have been involved in a serious accident you should go to the closest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Facial bone fractures cannot be treated with a cast like other parts of the body. The surgical placement of plates around the affected area is a recent development in medicine that allows for a faster recovery time and involves the fewest incisions necessary.

Any kind of traumatic injury to your face is serious and should be addressed immediately to prevent further damage and scaring. If you’ve had a recent injury and think you may have a facial bone fracture, call us immediately to schedule a consultation.

Our New Blog!

Our blog has recently been set up. Please check back soon!