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Lower jaw surgery and singing!

Hi!
I am a 19 year old student who is very interested in singing, but is planning on having surgery to my lower jaw to correct the asymmetry in my jaw/face. My lower jaw will be moved over to the left to align my teeth better. It is over by a small tooth size.
I have been taking singing lessons (classical) for about three years and enjoy singing around the house, in choirs and in perfermances. I will be recieving lower jaw surgery in a few weeks and was wondering how it would affect me. I'm looking for the "what ifs" of the surgery, like for example, if I recieve nerve damage to my chin/lips. I have been told that I will get used to the feeling of numbness when talking, and that people who have recieved nerve damage permantely feel OK about it. I have asked my surgeron how it would affect my singing, but his response was that he wasn't a singer so he dosen't know how it would affect one. I know the surgery wouldn't affect my voice as it dosen't go near my vocal cords but for the lips and chin... if I recieve nerve damage and it's numb forever, how will it affect my singing? Would I be able to sing like I do now? Does it affect my diction?
 
I'm currently in college doing social science. I had no plan to do music or performance at this stage but I would rather have a choice later on to "try it" and of course, I would love to continue singing in choirs and sing in perfermances. Any knowledge of this area would be very greatful. Thank you!
Replies (4): Threaded | Chronological
on February 16, 2014 1:13pm
Good luck with your surgery. I had surgery on both top and bottom jaws at once. My bottom jaw was rotated and moved forward, and a wedge of bone was taken out of my maxilla to create a closed bite (my top and bottom teeth didn't meet before). Recovery took quite a while. Feeling came back in the upper area, but will never come back in my lower jaw and lips. It feels like my chin and lower lip are numb (and sometimes tingly). This has made flute playing challenging, as I had to re-learn how to play (nothing was in the same place, and I can no longer rely on feeling where my flute sits in relation to the air stream). Blowing out candles is also a challenge, which is still a surprise for me, and whistling a tune around the house is not very easy any more, even after years. The thing that affected my singing the most was the range of motion of my jaw. After six weeks of forced immobility, I needed extensive physiotherapy to regain free movement. I certainly have fewer TMJ issues now, which is great, and I have not noticed any issues with diction.
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on February 17, 2014 11:52am
Thank you so much for your comment! It has really settled my nerves :)
 
Still nervous, but from other responses, I have faith that even if I recieve nerve damage, I will be able to sing again! (Just with a lot of practice and hard work!)
 
(If anyone else has any experience or even a friend's experience, please go ahead and share! The more the merrier!)
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on February 16, 2014 3:45pm
Another aspect of any major surgery for singers to consider is the impact of intubation. Here is a link to a comprehensive article on the subject by Kari Ragan published in the Journal of Singing.
 
Wishing you all the best on this journey!
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on February 18, 2014 6:53am
FWIW, Sean (and it may not be much), a loose and relaxed jaw is an asset in singing, so the numbness wouldn't be a problem for that aspect.  However, if the muscles around the lips are affected, that could present a problem with some of your vowels.  "Aw," "oh," "oo" (look) and "oo" (soon) all require some formation of the lips to be well made.  You might ask your doctor if there's a chance those muscles could be affected.  
 
Best of luck.  
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