A jaw resection is a surgical procedure where a portion of the jaw is removed. There are many reasons why a jaw resection may be performed, such as to prevent the spread of a tumor to surrounding areas.
A jaw resection can be performed by either making an incision on the neck line, or inside the mouth. Then the area of bone, along with a clear margin in some cases, is removed and the existing sections of the jaw are bridged by attaching a titanium plate. The plate is screwed into the existing sections of the jaw. In some cases where the entire joint is removed, a small ball shaped piece is placed to simulate the joint. Permanent nerve damage can occur, depending on which sections of the jaw are removed.
My jaw resection involved removing slightly more than a third of my jaw due to a diagnosis of ameloblastoma. As a result, I needed to also have my alveolar nerve removed. This resulted in a lack of sensation in my left lower lip, left chin, teeth and gums, and a small area on my left jaw line. In some cases, a limited amount of sensation comes back, but regaining all sensation is unlikely.
You might think that a jaw resection is a painful procedure, but it isn’t. After my procedure, most of the left side of my face and neck were numb, so I felt almost no discomfort, and didn’t really need pain medication. With the exception of the chin area, the sensation returned to my face and neck about a week after surgery. Despite the lack of pain, there are some things you will need to get used to.
After my jaw resection, I needed to have arch bars placed on my teeth. Arch bars are metal bars that are attached to the teeth by twisting wire between the teeth and fastening them into place. They also have small hooks on them. I didn’t need to have my jaw wired. Instead, I had to use elastics that were needed to provide a reference for my lower jaw. The hooks were painful because they cut into the inside of my mouth. Fortunately, this problem was taken care of by placing dental wax over the hooks.
If you are going to have a jaw resection, you must drink and have very soft foods. Harder foods will be difficult to eat, even months after the surgery. At the beginning, I would recommend buying meal replacement shakes. This will help you get the necessary amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates. Just remember: You will feel a lot different after surgery, but under good circumstances, things get better at a very steady rate.