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Modern Dentistry: Repairing The Faces Of War

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Warfare today produces many horrific injuries, including significant cases of facial disfiguration. Since battlefield medicine now ensures as many as 90 percent of injured soldiers survive their wounds, thousands are left with lifetime scars and disablement. For those with severe facial wounds, only major maxillofacial surgery provides any hope for a normal life and appearance. Thanks to leading-edge medical and dental techniques, many soldiers with major facial injuries now have hope for such a new lease on life.

Developing a Comprehensive Approach

The Civil War and World War I served as proving grounds for many of the concepts that are behind today's facial and dental reconstruction. This work continued with WWII and Vietnam. Doctors and dental specialists now work as a team to deal with facial fractures, damaged teeth and jaws, and muscle repair, as well as the final cosmetic surgeries required. Aside from restoring physical functions, adequate facial reconstruction is an important factor in helping deal with such problems as post-traumatic stress.

Today, dedicated physicians, dental surgeons, and other medical professionals like Andersen Kevin Dr Inc are pushing the envelope in finding new solutions to the challenges of facial reconstruction. Instead of spending time in offices putting in dental bridges or setting broken limbs, these specialists often find themselves performing medical miracles such as creating jaws from leg bones and new lips from tongues.

These advanced and even experimental techniques are necessary to repair some of the most extensive injuries. However, they often produce results and capabilities that eventually move to the civilian world. In fact, many of today's most important medical and dental advances related to facial reconstruction and cosmetic surgery come from the work that first started in earnest in England.

The devastating injuries caused by trench warfare motivated British doctors such as Harold Gillies to pioneer new concepts and techniques to help soldiers. Some of the manuals written then for plastic and maxillofacial surgery are still in use today. In fact, numerous American and Canadian soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated with supraclavicular flaps for facial skin grafts in the same manner pioneered by Dr. Gillies in 1917.

Because of the significant successes in this area, the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine has been funded to further the research on current disabled veterans. While this effort is focused on specific military needs, it is already producing new techniques and materials that are flowing to local doctor and dental offices.

While we thank our veterans for their service in defending our country, many of us may well owe some severely wounded soldier a special thank you for a medical or dental technique that benefits us or one of our loved ones.