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ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – When Lonnie Streeter discovered he had a noncancerous tumor in his jaw, he turned to AdventHealth for help.
“About five years ago, I wanted to get some dental work done. Get my teeth straightened,” said Streeter, 45, of Orlando. “I was told I had a cyst in my gums, and they referred me to a specialist. After the biopsy I was told I needed to have surgery to remove the cyst.”
Initially, Streeter decided not to undergo surgery. Years later, he noticed swelling in his mouth and was referred to the head and neck surgery office at AdventHealth Altamonte Springs. It was determined that he had a benign jaw tumor that needed to be removed.
“I felt like I had just got a death sentence,” Streeter recalled. “I thought that [surgery] would disfigure me. That I wouldn’t look nothing like me.”
Streeter had great anxiety after being diagnosed with the tumor, which required the removal of most of his teeth and jaw.
In recent years, technological advancements especially digital planning and simulation have made it possible for patients like Streeter to undergo “Jaw in a Day” reconstruction surgery. This type of procedure is typically done by transplanting the fibula bone, that it is the small bone on the outside of the leg, shaping it into a jaw, full dental rehabilitation, and transferring it to rebuild the jaw based on the exact dimension and contour of the patient face.
“You can break the surgery into two parts. The first part is to remove the tumor. The other part, which is the more complex part, is how to rebuild and restore their lives so they can go back to a normal quality of life,” said Dr. Fawaz Makki, otolaryngologist head and neck surgeon at AdventHealth. “In Lonnie’s case, we removed almost his entire lower jaw and all his lower teeth. Afterwards, we needed to restore the bony jaw, full lower dental implants and rehabilitation, occlusion, and facial contour. This will restore his ability to have a normal speech, chew and enjoy all types of food, and have his own identity and looks back.”
With the assistance of a prosthodontist, Makki and the team of head and neck surgeons conducted the comprehensive jaw reconstruction surgery "Jaw in a Day". The treatment includes dental rehabilitation as well as dental implants placed on the leg bone to reconstruct the jaw defect with dental restoration. This procedure provides patients with the fastest recovery possible, allowing them to return to their normal life activities.
This type of surgery requires careful planning and 3D modeling ahead of time to ensure everything fits and works seamlessly.
Following the surgery, Streeter spent a few days in the hospital and continued his recovery at home.
“I feel renewed,” he said. “Like a second chance at life.”