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Surgical Risks

About 700 children and young adults are sent for jaw surgery in the UK, each year. Surgery of this type often results in damage ranging from mild numbness of the lip, to severe pain and damage with occasional death. This is done because most orthodontists believe that jaw growth is inherited and the bone can only be moved by cutting it into two or more sections and screwing them into improved positions. Some orthodontists will see this as the only solution if the upper teeth are more than 4 millimetres in front of the lowers (an overjet) although most surgeons in the UK will not operate unless the overjet is six millimetres or more. The current concern is that alternative methods have been developed that can correct overjets of 12 millimetres and more without need of surgery, although this does mean wearing removable braces for several years. Some patients want to avoid any delay and chose surgery but others frequently take their orthodontists advice without ever knowing that most surgery can be avoided. While this is clearly a breach of the law, the orthodontic establishment is very conservative and have been supported by the GDC who have ruled that “Failing to inform a patient of alternative treatments which, in the dentist’s opinion would not be appropriate, would not constitute a failure to obtain fully informed consent”. No other professional group is allowed to recommend only the treatment it thinks appropriate regardless of what the patients prefer but this opinion has also has been supported by the Minister of Health so that hundreds of patients in the UK have surgery each year which is completely unnecessary. One thing that makes this worse is that over 50% of the surgical correction relapses over time but patients are often not warned about this. We would be happy to support any patients who wish to complain because they were never given this information.

IT Team

So, what do you think ?