In our ongoing series of true stories and events, even this one surprised me recently. I met a young woman who goes to college nearby and she told me that a few years back she had her “jaw cracked” and “reset” more forward. What she had done was an advancement of the upper jaw and the lower jaw as well. When I met her, she was in terrible pain and her face was a bit distorted. So, of course I ordered my usual MRI of the TMJ’s. What I found was prominent displacement of the disc laterally on one side and just moderate displacement of the disc on the other side. This is a most serious matter when such displacement occurs. The interesting thing is that her teeth were pretty and straight- unfortunately!
As many of my readers already know, those slipped discs have caused a lot of problems for this young lady- mostly pain, but also the facial distortion as well. I truly wish that I had been on the team of doctors taking care of her a few years back because I think many of these issues could have been prevented. By first determining if the joints are healthy, only then would I recommend doing any type of jaw advancement surgery because the joints need to be healthy enough to handle the trauma of the surgery.
So, what happened here? Basically, imagine if you simply dragged your upper and lower jaws forward. Go ahead- pull your jaws forward and see how it feels. Not great, is it? Well, that will effectively ‘pinch’ the disc in the jaw joint and it might cause it to pop out of place which is possibly what happened in this case. Since I was not there to plan the case, I cannot be 100% sure of what happened. There is also the chance that this young person ‘messed up’ after her surgery and began doing activities way too soon which would have damaged the joints. So there is no way to really ‘pin this’ on someone as they say.
Now what do we do to fix the problem? In this case, the ALF on the upper jaw and Gelb on the lower. This will effectively give the discs a chance to go back into place while the cranial bones start to level. We also will do x-rays and if they show distortion of the cervical spine, which I already suspect will be seen, then we will use an osteopath doctor to work on these distortions as well. This work will take at least a few years and many appointments to get the job done, but all I can say is that I am so very glad that she came to see me since this is what I do all day long!