Rigid fixation jaw surgery can be an effective approach to keeping the jawbone properly aligned during healing.
With some surgeries, the jaw is wired shut to prevent movement. This isn’t exactly convenient for patients, and it makes the recovery period more of a challenge. So when possible, oral surgeons use rigid fixation instead.
With rigid fixation jaw surgery, the oral surgeon inserts screws and plates to reposition and stabilize the jawbone. This works to maintain proper alignment, while also allowing patients to open and close their mouths.
Reasons for Rigid Fixation Surgery
This method of jaw surgery is used to address fractures or breaks in the mandible (the lower jawbone) or in the maxillae (the upper jawbone). Oral surgeons commonly employ the technique during:
- Orthognathic procedures to correct jaw abnormalities and tooth misalignment
- Jaw revision and reconstruction procedures designed to treat facial trauma
In some cases, jaw surgery is followed by orthodontic care.
Removing the Fixation Plates and Screws
Patients often wonder if the fixation screws and plates need to be removed at some point.
The answer? In most cases, removal isn’t necessary. The titanium seamlessly integrates with the bone, so the hardware is usually left in place for life. The only exception is if the plates and screws become exposed due to gum disease or another oral health problem. If that happens, oral surgeons generally recommend removal, as exposure increases the risk of infection.
When removal is indicated, the procedure is best completed within about a year of the original jaw revision and reconstruction. If more time passes, the oral surgeon may need to remove the bone to fully extract the exposed hardware.
Is Rigid Fixation Jaw Surgery Right for You?
With rigid fixation, recovering from surgery can be easier and less stressful than if your jaw was wired shut. Just being able to open and close your mouth will be a big plus. And although your diet will still be limited to liquids and soft foods, you’ll have a larger range of food options.
As for the drawbacks, this surgical approach is more invasive than other methods. In some patients, it may not produce better results or speed the healing process. And it isn’t recommended in every jaw revision and reconstruction.
For advice on the safest, most effective approach for your jaw surgery, turn to the professionals at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah.
Our board-certified oral surgeons, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield, specialize in jaw revision and reconstruction and have over 10 years of experience performing both routine and complex procedures. You can trust the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah team to decide on the treatment plan that best meets your needs. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office and schedule a consultation to discuss rigid fixation jaw surgery today.