Jaw surgery may be required for a multitude of conditions and injuries. TMJ disorder can progress to the point where surgery may be required to help move the jaw back into its original position and hold it in place. When a jaw bone is broken or damaged in any way, wires may be used to help mobilize the joint and hold the entire jaw in place during the healing process. Bone grafts may also be used during these types of injuries to replace portions of the jaw that have been irreparably damaged. There are also cosmetic surgeries that may require that the jaw bone be altered in some way to improve or restore the normal appearance of the facial structure.
The time it takes for surgeries associated with the jaw to heal will depend on what type of procedure was performed. Bone grafts, for example, will take longer than a slight break. TMJ procedures that involve the correcting abnormalities of both the bone and the connective tissues may take slightly longer, The ligaments and tendons that hold the jaw in place can become stretched or torn. Because there is little blood flow to the connective tissue, it can take up to six to eight weeks for the injured area to begin to heal properly. After that, the patient must be careful to not over-stress the area or cause an additional injury.
Bone grafts are commonly used jaw surgery, especially if there has been extensive damage to the bone. Grafts taken from smaller bones, such as the tibia, can be easily used to support new bone growth in the jaw and cheekbone. Bone grafts are the primary means of correcting birth defects like cleft palates. The small pieces of bone are positioned to allow for maximum bone growth that will help restore both form and function to the jaw and surrounding skeletal structures. The grafts will often heal without any noticeable scarring or visible signs of the surgery.
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