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Mandibular Surgery

Mandibular surgery is done to correct an overgrowth or undergrowth of the lower jaw. This is a very common abnormality. Sometimes, undergrowth of the mandible is related to snoring, breathing difficulties, or sleep apnea, a condition in which people experience shortness of breath that wakes them up at night.

Mandibular surgery can involve bone-moving procedures such as osteotomy (bone-cut) and distraction osteogenesis, as well as bone-grafting techniques that may use either artificial bone material or a patient's own bone, taken from elsewhere in the body. Depending on each patient's specific situation, surgery of the maxilla (upper jaw) or genioplasty (chin surgery) may also be a part of the treatment plan. Mandibular surgery may also be combined with orthodontic procedures such as braces in a long-term treatment plan.

Treatment

The surgery is generally done under general anesthesia. The surgeon conducts the operation through an incision made on the inside of the mouth. In some types of mandibular surgery the repositioned bone can be stabilized with tiny plates (rigid fixation), but other types may require having the mouth wired shut (intermaxillary fixation) for two to six weeks after the surgery.

Patients will have to maintain a no-chew diet for a period of time during recovery as directed by their surgeon. Right after the surgery, many people experience facial swelling that can be severe for the first few days. Applying ice packs can bring down the major swelling, but residual swelling can take several weeks to go down. Patients may also feel some numbness in their lips, gums and/or chin for some time after the surgery.

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