WHAT IS MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
Maxillofacial surgery is a special kind of dentistry. It includes operations to correct diseases, injuries, and defects of your face, jaw, or mouth. Maxillofacial surgeons are advanced specialists who diagnose and treat issues with:
- Bones and tissues of your jaw and lower face (maxillofacial region)
- The roof of your mouth (palate)
WHY IS MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY DONE?
Maxillofacial surgery is performed to:
- Improve jaw function
- Relieve pain
Maxillofacial surgery could address a wide variety of dental problems and conditions, such as:
- Diagnosing reasons for chronic dental pain.
- Preparing the mouth for dental implants and prostheses (like dentures).
- Placing dental implants.
- Removing (extracting) impacted teeth.
- Treat oral diseases.
Procedures could also treat jaw problems, such as:
- Bone grafting, or transplanting bone from another region of the body to replace bone that is missing in your jaw.
- Reconstructing your jaw to fix an abnormal bite.
- Treating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders that affect the region where your lower jaw attaches to your skull.
- Treating injuries associated with trauma to your face, jaw, and mouth.
Other reasons to perform maxillofacial surgery are:
- Correcting congenital (present at birth) abnormalities like cleft lip and palate.
- Diagnosing and treating cysts, tumors, cancer, and other growths within your head and neck.
- Diagnosing reasons for chronic facial pain.
- Treating facial trauma (injury), like facial fractures or damaged maxillofacial tissue.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
Maxillofacial surgeons are oral surgeons are the same. Training includes oral and maxillofacial surgery but some surgeons limit their practice to oral surgery and office-based procedures while others prefer more hospital-based procedures.
WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
If you require maxillofacial surgery, your healthcare provider (primary care provider or dentist) will refer you to a specialist.
The maxillofacial surgeon will meet you for a consultation in order to:
- Ask about your symptoms, medical history, recent medications, and more.
- Examine your oral cavity and surrounding regions.
- Order tests as needed, such as dental X-rays or 3D scans to get detailed pictures of the maxillofacial structures.
- Diagnose the condition and recommend surgery or another treatment.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
Maxillofacial surgery differs greatly depending on the problem and procedure. Some surgeries could be done in an outpatient setting, and you can go home the same day. Other treatment plans include multiple surgeries to achieve the desired results.
Maxillofacial surgeons are trained and authorized to administer anesthesia to prevent pain or put you to sleep. Your healthcare team will talk to you about whether you will need anesthesia and what type is best for you.
Toward the end of the procedure, your surgeon might use stitches to close any surgical wounds. Your surgeon also might place packing in your mouth to protect your teeth or the wound and to absorb fluids such as blood and pus.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
After maxillofacial surgery, your healthcare team will move you to a recovery room so you could wake up from the anesthesia. You might have some discomfort or pain as the medication wears off.
You will also probably experience:
- Limited use of the jaw and teeth
Your surgical team will speak to you about how the surgery went when you can go home and how to take care of yourself during recovery.
If you are receiving anesthesia, you should have someone drive you home.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
Maxillofacial surgery could permanently improve pain, function, and appearance.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OR COMPLICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
As with any operation, there are risks with maxillofacial surgery, like:
- A dry socket is a painful condition that could occur after tooth extraction involving problems with blood clots.
- Damage to teeth, lips, tongue, cheeks, chin, nasal cavity, sinuses, or maxillofacial bones or tissue.
- Numbness or changes in sensation in the mouth or other regions of your face.
- Potential damage to nerves that move some of the muscles of your face.
- Root fragments are an unusual complication when a piece of tooth root breaks off and stays in place after surgery.
- TMJ disorders
WHAT IS RECOVERY LIKE AFTER MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
What is recovery like after maxillofacial surgery?
If you received stitches, they will either dissolve or be removed in about a week.
You may have to avoid specific foods and activities for days or weeks. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions, which might include:
- Apply ice packs to lower inflammation
- Stay away from foods that are crunchy, chewy, or hard
- Avoid tobacco products and alcohol
- Do not exercise for a few days because it could increase bleeding and swelling
- Rest to prevent complications
- Rinse your teeth instead of brushing them to kill bacteria in the mouth
WHEN SHOULD I CALL MY HEALTHCARE PROVIDER?
After maxillofacial surgery, look for medical attention if you experience any signs of infection or other complications:
- Fever or chills
- Abnormal swelling or pain that does not get better gradually
- Salty, metallic, or bad taste in the mouth that does not go away
- Excessive pus or blood
If you or anyone you know is suffering from maxillofacial surgery, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.