Biting rejection for jaw surgery

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:14 03/06/2014
Aaron Goodwin
TAKING IT ON THE CHIN: Aaron Goodwin has been refused funding for jaw surgery because he doesn't meet the threshold for a public-funded operation.

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A Blenheim man turned down for public-funded surgery to resolve a painful overbite to his jaw says he will face a never-ending cycle of expensive temporary fixes.

Aaron Goodwin had been referred for surgery at Hutt Valley District Health Board but was refused in 2010 because he didn't meet the threshold for a public-funded operation.

Since being turned down for the surgery, his oral health had deteriorated and it would cost close to $1000 for treatment for his advanced periodontal disease and severe tissue trauma, Goodwin said.

The periodontal disease was eating away at his gums and would require work from a periodontist to reverse before he could be re-assessed for surgery.

His jaw misalignment had caused his top teeth and bottom teeth to catch when he talks, eats and sleeps and caused pain in his jaw and subsequent headaches.

Goodwin ran for Marlborough District Council last year.

The 23-year-old, who has a community services card, was only eligible for up to $300 a year in Government assistance for emergency dental work. The required orthognathic operation involved a controlled break of his jaw, enabling it to be pulled forward into the position it was supposed to grow into.

Goodwin said he had been frustrated Hutt Valley District Health Board had not provided a reason for not providing the free surgery.

Vineyard worker Goodwin said if he were to go private, the surgery would cost between $17,000 and $25,000.

"I have been trying for years to obtain loans from medical loan-sharks, banks and finance companies to enable me to go private and get on with leading a normal life," he said.

"My income during this time has never been high enough to make me eligible for such a costly loan."

Goodwin was referred for surgery by his Nelson-based orthodontist Andrew Lush in September 2010. Lush recommended surgery as the only option that would give a satisfactory long-term result.

Wellington-based craniomaxillofacial surgeon Dr Craig MacKinnon discussed the referral with two of his colleagues and agreed surgery was the best option but they were unable to offer surgical treatment in the public system.

Goodwin said in the years since being turned down, his oral health had worsened and the pain had become unbearable.

"I have been enduring worsening issues with my mouth and jaw pain for years now, and have started spending almost as much money on over the counter painkillers as I have on food to deal with the pain. The pain wakes me from sleep, makes it painful to chew, talk and yawn, and the pain from my jaw can turn into chronic migraines that leave me bedridden for hours.

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"Until I have the required surgery on my jaw, every cent spent on my oral health will be wasted on a never-ending cycle of temporary fixes. I have been putting up with this pain for years, and really don't know how much longer I can continue with it."

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board said it did not provide the surgery Goodwin required. The board advised Goodwin he could seek a new appointment with his orthodontist, and if it was concluded surgery was the best option, to get a reassessment by Hutt Valley District Health Board.

Hutt Valley District Health Board said, given the current level of funding for their service, they were unable to provide elective treatment appropriate for Goodwin.

They said they had not received any further information to indicate that Goodwin's condition had deteriorated.

The board would not comment when asked by the Marlborough Express what was the threshold to meet the necessary orthognathic surgery.

- The Marlborough Express

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