A consultation with an oral-maxillofacial surgeon is sometimes indicated when there is a problem with the mouth, jaw, or neck. This surgical specialty focuses on identifying and treating with surgery when necessary, diseases, injuries and defects of the maxillofacial region.
The complex facial region contains both hard and soft tissues that, due to disease or injury, may need repair to improve their function and/or appearance. The Center for Excellence specializes in Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery and Corrective Jaw Surgery among other diagnoses.
Craniofacial surgery is indicated when defects or trauma to the skull occur, whether they were present from birth or acquired due to injury. An oral-maxillofacial surgeon is trained to provide reconstructive treatment to every part of the facial region.
For people with birth defects or deformities, maxillofacial surgery can be life changing. Because the face is so prominent and visible a part of a patient’s outward identity, deformities can isolate those burdened by them from social situations. Corrective surgery improves the appearance, and allows the patient to ‘put his or her best face forward’ every day with increased self-confidence.
Patients may be referred to a maxillofacial surgeon for numerous and varied reasons:
- to remove cysts or tumors
- to realign a jaw after trauma
- to repair a jaw affected by temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ)
- for reconstruction following cancer surgery
- or to reset bones after facial trauma, among others.
A dentist or orthodontist refers patients to a maxillofacial surgeon when issues arise that cannot be corrected through dental procedures or orthodontics. These instances may include facial pain or jaw deformities. The maxillofacial surgeon is trained in reconstructive surgery and can rebuild areas of the face when needed.
Sometimes it is a severe injury from an automobile accident or an industrial accident that prompts a patient to seek out a maxillofacial surgeon. A maxillofacial surgeon has honed the delicate skills needed to surgically repair damage to tissue and bone while preserving or even reconstructing the aesthetics of the face. In addition, the surgeon may also be called upon to address nerve damage that is often the source of ongoing pain for a patient. The more expeditiously a patient is treated, the more successfully the damage from the accident can be repaired and healed.
When a patient is diagnosed with cancer or other tumors of the face surgery is often required as part of an overall treatment plan. A specially trained maxillofacial surgeon may be part of the medical team. As in the other scenarios presented previously, the patient relies on the skills of the surgeon to not only remove diseased tissue, but to do so while preserving or restoring the patient’s physical appearance.
As we have learned, there are many complicated issues involved when facial trauma occurs: physical, psychological, emotional and sensory. Because of these complexities, as well as the delicate nature of the facial structure and multitudinous nerve pathways running through the face, training to become a specialist at performing maxillofacial surgery is lengthy and intense – including dental school, medical school and several years of medical residency in a hospital.
Kayvon Haghighi, DDS, MD, FACS is licensed to practice both medicine and dentistry in the state of New Jersey. Dr. Haghighi’s unique combination of surgical training and experience in facial reconstruction enables him to analyze your condition from multiple points of view.