If MMF screws are used intraoperatively, they are usually removed at the conclusion of surgery. Arch bars may be maintained postoperatively for functional therapy.
Postoperative x-rays are taken within the first days after surgery.
It is imperative that the occlusal relationship and mandibular function be assessed early and on a regular basis. The patient is evaluated at 1 week to verify the occlusion and to assure adequate performance of functional rehabilitation exercises.
If a malocclusion is detected, the surgeon must ascertain its etiology (using the appropriate imaging technique). If the malocclusion is secondary to surgical edema or muscle splinting, training elastics will be beneficial. The lightest elastics possible are used for guidance, because active motion of the mandible is desirable. Patients should be shown how to place and remove the elastics using a hand mirror.
If the malocclusion is secondary to a bony problem due to inadequate reduction or hardware failure or displacement, elastic training will be of no benefit. The patient must return to the operating room for revision surgery.
The frequency of follow-up will largely be based on the findings of the 1 week appointment. Typically, if the patient is doing well at 1 week, they will not be seen for 2 more weeks. The necessity and frequency of future appointments will be based upon the findings from this appointment.
Postoperatively, patients will have to follow three basic instructions:
The patient can eat whatever is comfortable. If solid foods cause pain, the patient will self-limit their diet to softer foods. There is no contraindication to taking solid foods from the standpoint of their fracture. Nevertheless, most surgeons recommend soft diet for a variable period of time.
2. Oral hygiene
Patients with extraoral approaches are not compromised in their routine oral hygiene measures and should continue with their daily schedule.
Patients with intraoral wounds must be instructed in appropriate oral hygiene procedures. The presence of the arch-bars and any elastics makes this a more difficult procedure than normal. A soft toothbrush (dipping in warm water makes it softer) should be used to clean the surfaces of the teeth and arch-bars. Any elastics are removed for oral hygiene procedures. Chlorhexidine oral rinses should be prescribed and used at least three times each day to help sanitize the mouth. For larger debris, a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide/chlorhexidine can be used. The bubbling action of the hydrogen peroxide helps remove debris. A Waterpik® is a very useful tool to help remove debris from the wires. If a Waterpik is used, care should be taken not to direct the jet stream directly over intraoral incisions as this may lead to wound dehiscence.
Patients are instructed in physical therapy maneuvers to restore mandibular excursions. This includes maximum jaw opening, right and left lateral excursions, and protrusive excursions of the mandible. They should perform these exercises several times a day.