Rigid fixation is a type of jaw surgery designed to help stabilize the jaw after reconstruction or reshaping.
Many patients have questions about the screws and plates that will hold their jaw together. Will you set off airport metal detectors? Can you ever take out the hardware? Before you undergo rigid fixation, you should know what it entails.
What it Is
When a jaw needs to be repositioned or it has undergone trauma, jaw surgery is often the answer.
Regardless of the reason for the surgery, the jawbone has to be held in place for about six weeks with minimal movement in order for the bones to heal correctly.
While sometimes oral surgeons will wire the jaw shut to prevent movement during healing, rigid fixation is another option. Inserting screws and plates that physically keep the jawbone aligned even while you open and close it makes the healing process more convenient and less risky.
Why it’s Done
Rigid fixation is a surgical correction method used for both trauma and controlled treatment. After trauma, the goal is to maintain jaw stability and shape. The titanium hardware does this by keeping the jaw in place.
Rigid fixation is often the chosen method in cases of severe malocclusion, when the teeth are badly misaligned. If orthodontic treatment will not be enough to correct the issue, your doctor may recommend surgery, and rigid fixation helps the healing process along toward this goal.
Will You Need the Hardware Removed?
The titanium elements used in rigid fixation do not need to be removed. Titanium is usually the material of choice because it integrates perfectly with the bone. The only time you may need the plates and screws removed is if you have gum disease or other oral health issues that expose the hardware and leave it susceptible to infection.
If you are having the plates removed, it’s best to do so about one year after placement. This gives the bone enough time to heal. But waiting any longer means the bone may need to be removed to fully extract the plate. In general, screws will likely stay in place — to take them out you’d have to drill the bone, which is not advised.
And you will not set off metal detectors!
Will it Help You?
Rigid fixation is a more invasive procedure than other jaw surgery methods. If it won’t produce better results or deliver faster, more stable healing, it might not be the right choice for you. You can depend on Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to accurately assess the benefits and drawbacks of rigid fixation.