When Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Gives Patients Their Lives Back
In a recent case demonstrating the good that oral and maxillofacial surgery can do for society’s most vulnerable members, oral surgeons were able to give a seven-year-old girl suffering from left temporomandibular jaw ankylosis the ability to eat food, an action the young girl’s condition left her nearly unable to do. Temporomandibular jaw ankylosis can devastate patients due to a fusing of separate parts of the jaw, leaving patients unable to fully open their mouths.
Cases such as these, in which patients can have their lives restored thanks to surgery, are a common sight for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, who at their best can restore and heal patients and sometimes save their lives. Here are just a few ways that oral and maxillofacial surgeons can give patients the gift of restored health.
When Situations Change Identities
Some of the common conditions oral and maxillofacial surgeons are tasked with treating are cleft lip and palate, removal of benign tumors, and facial reconstruction occurring from accidents involving cars, guns, and falls. For the patient, recovery can be a life-restoring event: Damage from car accidents and gunshot wounds can be particularly severe, for example, leaving some patients with extensive and life-altering injuries to the face and head.
When Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Changes a Patient’s Life
In devastating cases such as these, oral and maxillofacial surgeons must not only treat the physical structure of the patient’s face but also the very identity of the patient. Whatever the cause, the patient’s face, which the patient has regarded as a symbol of their personality and a way of communicating their deepest emotions, has been harmed.
Dealing with the Most Difficult Cases a Patient Can Be Dealt
Sometimes the cases can be even more extreme: Increasingly, extensive burn or accident victims requiring completely new faces can regain their sense of identity through facial transplant procedures. Indeed, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon carried out the first full facial transplant in 2005.
For these patients, oral or maxillofacial surgery will offer a chance to be better than ever. And it usually is a life-changing experience for both patient and surgeon: For many who’ve regained the full use of their face and jaw, the fond memory of their surgeon will last with them for the entirety of their lives; for the surgeon, memory of helping the patient will also always stay with them.
Restoring Life and Identity
When a child can be saved after the accidental firing of a gun, and go on to live life as they would have without the accident having ever taken place, or a young woman in a terrible car crash can walk away nearly scar free from a scenario that nearly took her life, the value of oral and maxillofacial surgery to society truly reveals itself. This is especially true when surgeons can help children who are born with a congenital defect such as a cleft lip and palate: For these patients, treatment can start early enough that they may never even realize that they once needed surgery.
For these reasons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons help people every day when they are harmed and vulnerable, often restoring patients to a level of wellness that gives them the gift of a life renewed. For many of the surgeons handling such cases, such treatments are some of the most difficult parts of their work, but also the most rewarding. For their patients, the treatments are utterly life changing, bringing happiness where it was thought to have been extinguished.
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