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Face and Jaw Surgery

Jaw replacement for cancer

11/21/2006

Question:

My mother was recently diagnosed with CA of the lower alveolus....we were told that means cancer in the lower left jaw. On September 1st she had surgery and her lower left jaw was replaced with a Titanium plate. It has been almost 3 months now and she still has a lot of swelling. Is that normal? The doctors tell her it will go away, but three months ago they said it should go away in three months. Also the whole left side is quite numb and when she talks it does not move and when touched she does not feel much. Lastly she has no teeth on the lower left side and has been told that she needs to wait at least a year before the dentures are put in.

Please let me know if these are normal hapenings after this kind of surgery. What should we be doing to help in the recovery. thank you

Answer:

I will answer this the best I can. However, please realize that I am doing this without a radiograph of the lower jaw, so it may not be absolutely correct.

Replacing the jaw with a titanium plate is a normal method for connecting the remaining parts of the jaw. It does take time for the face to heal. The age and overall health of the patient can shorten or extend this. The numbness will, most likely, be permanent if I am to understand that the entire left jaw was removed. Lastly, it is important to wait for the area to heal before a prosthesis is placed.

Sometimes, it is wise not to place a prosthesis at all if only a bar was used to graft the area. If the bar is loosened, or becomes exposed to the oral cavity, it could be lost. So this will need to be evaluated after the area heals.

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Response by:

Meade C van Putten, DDS, MS Meade C van Putten, DDS, MS
Associate Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University