Saving Face Through TMJ Surgery

By: Boston University

Welcome, Holly. Finally, we're here. It's been what--four years, almost? Believe it or not this is you on the inside.

So remember that CAT scan we had? This is what they made and this is what came to me about five or six days ago. Holly had some degenerative disease of her jawbone. Slowly she lost her chin projection and the jaw moved into the airway causing breathing problems. So before surgery my life was a challenge. I had to learn to chew with my tongue, sleep on multiple pillows, firm pillows just to keep my jaw comfortable, otherwise I wouldn't be able to breathe. So this is a normal human jaw. The name of the jaw joint is temporomandibular joint, widely known as TMJ.

In Holly's case, part of the joint started to dissolve due to an unknown problem. If you look, the condyle is not present because most of it was gone due to the disease process. Classically, historically, over the last 100 years, joints have been reconstructed with their own bone, but that is a pretty extensive operation, leaves scars, has risks and also those bones don't work as well as an actual joint. In her case, we used state-of-the-art technology whereby using this model we would fabricate a joint that is customized to her, and the joints were delivered into the operating room on the day of surgery. So we ready? Yeah are you? Good. Nervous? No. It's a long surgical procedure. All your team has to be on board with it.

The surgeries take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours depending on what you're doing. When we went into surgery we first went into the joint and immobilized the lower part of the face. We then fitted the joints. Once this was completed we then performed upper jaw surgery and then came back again to do some work on her chin. How are you doing? Everything good? Perfect. Everything's normal now. It's pretty gratifying to see patients and their families happy. Its a long process, it's a long surgery, but the results at the end are life-changing.

Saving Face Through TMJ Surgery

After surgery, everything feels normal again, I can eat, I only sleep with one soft pillow at night now. So everything's been perfect. Thanks.

[Laughter] You did good! You talked me into doing it.

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