Maxillofacial surgery is a type of surgery that deals with the bones and soft tissues of the face, jaw, and neck. It is a set of complex medical procedures that require a skilled and experienced maxillofacial surgeon. This type of surgery can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, from facial injuries to birth defects, and can greatly improve your quality of life. If you are considering any type of oral surgical procedure, it’s important to understand the process and what to expect during the recovery period.
What Can Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Treat?
Maxillofacial surgery is a surgical specialty that combines dentistry, medicine, and surgery to address a wide range of conditions, including:
- Jaw and facial injuries
- Facial and jaw deformities
- Cleft lip and palate
- Oral cancer or neck cancer
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
- Wisdom tooth extraction
- Dental implant procedures
- Sleep apnea
Maxillofacial surgeons are trained in both dentistry and medicine and have expertise in performing complex surgeries on the face and jaws. They work closely with other healthcare professionals, including dentists, orthodontists, oncologists, and other surgical specialists to provide comprehensive care to their patients. Maxillofacial surgeons must complete advanced training and education beyond dental school, and some may also have a medical degree in addition to their degree in dentistry.
Surgery to Repair Facial Trauma
Facial trauma surgery is often used to treat cranio-maxillofacial traumas resulting from accidents, falls, and sports injuries. These injuries can affect various structures in the face and oral cavity, including bones, soft tissues, and teeth.
Fractures of the jaw and facial bones are common reasons for facial surgery, as well as soft tissue injuries, such as cuts or lacerations. Maxillofacial surgeons may also treat dental injuries resulting from facial trauma, such as broken or knocked-out teeth. This may involve replanting the tooth, stabilizing it with a splint, or restoring it with a dental implant.
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure used to replace missing or damaged bone tissue with new bone material. It is a common procedure used in maxillofacial surgery to restore the structure and function of the jaw and other facial bones. Bone grafting is often needed when there is not enough bone tissue to support dental implants, repair facial fractures, or reconstruct the jaw after trauma or disease.
Bone grafting may be used to:
- Repair the jaw bone after bone loss due to severe gum disease
- Support dental implants
- Repair facial fractures
- Reconstruct the jaw after trauma or disease
- Correct facial deformities or asymmetry
Corrective Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)
Jaw reconstruction is a procedure used to rebuild or replace the jawbone after trauma, disease, or other conditions that affect the jawbone. It is also used to treat functional problems such as difficulty with chewing, speaking, or breathing, as well as aesthetic concerns related to the structure and appearance of the face.
Corrective jaw surgery is often needed when the upper and lower jaws do not meet correctly, causing a misaligned bite or other problems. This may be due to a congenital condition, such as a cleft palate, or it may develop over time due to factors such as trauma, disease, or natural aging.
Plastic Surgery/Cosmetic Surgery
While their main focus is on functional and reconstructive surgery, many dental specialists and maxillofacial surgeons are also trained in cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures such as cleft palate surgery to improve the appearance of the face.
Cosmetic surgery can play an important role in correcting birth defects such as a cleft palate, which results in a gap or split in the roof of the mouth. This condition can cause difficulties with speech, feeding, and dental development, and may require surgical intervention to correct.
Surgery to Correct TMJ Disorder
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that affects the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. Symptoms may include pain or discomfort in the jaw, difficulty chewing, and clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to correct TMJ.
The specific type of surgery used to correct TMJ will depend on the severity of the condition and the needs of the patient. In general, surgery is usually considered a last resort after other treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, or oral appliances, have failed to improve symptoms.
Recovering from Maxillofacial Surgical Treatments
The recovery process after maxillofacial surgery can vary depending on the specific procedure performed and the individual patient. However, there are some general guidelines that patients can expect to follow during the recovery period.
Immediately after surgery, patients may experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the affected area. Pain medication and an ice pack can help manage these symptoms. Patients may also be advised to follow a soft or liquid diet for several days after surgery to minimize stress on the jaw and mouth.
In the days and weeks following surgery, patients will need to be careful to avoid certain activities that could disrupt the healing process. This may include avoiding hard or chewy foods, refraining from smoking or using tobacco products, and avoiding strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. Patients may also be advised to avoid touching the surgical site or brushing the teeth near the affected area for a period of time.
Depending on the procedure performed, patients may need to attend follow-up appointments with their surgeon to monitor healing and address any concerns or complications.
Contact Strull Oral Surgery for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in Louisville, KY
Our dental surgeons, Dr. Jim Strull and Dr. Greg Strull, are experienced oral surgeons who specialize in a wide variety of dental surgeries, including reconstructive surgery, wisdom teeth removal, dental implant surgery, and craniofacial surgery in Louisville and Seymour, KY. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.