July 9 (UPI) -- A Marine Corps member is the first recipient of the Defense Department's first jaw reconstruction using 3D-printed teeth, the Pentagon said on Friday.
A tumor prompted the removal of most of Cpl. Jaden Murry's jaw in a November 2020 surgery.
It was reconstructed using a portion of his fibula, or lower leg bone, but his lower teeth were made using a digital model, which was then printed into a physical replacement bridge and inserted in the new jaw.
Murry is a member of Logistics Battalion 7, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
The surgery was conducted by a multi-department team of surgical specialists at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.
"All of the providers worked as a team to keep his recovery on track," Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hammer, maxillofacial surgical oncologist and reconstructive surgeon, said in a press release.
"We were able to safely remove his tracheostomy tube [inserted in a patient's neck when there are concerns about postoperative breathing] within a week of the surgery, and it was then we knew he was making strides in the right direction."
Murry is recovering in the Naval Center's Wounded Warrior Battalion, and on a diet of soft foods. A final prosthetic set of teeth will be available to him in about two months.
"Since his surgery, [OMFS specialists and I] see Jaden twice weekly for check-ups, and we're guiding his healing process," Hammer said in December. "To see him swallowing, speaking, walking and not using a tracheostomy tube one week post-surgery was a huge victory, both for [Murry] and for us."
The success is also a part of a program developed by the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine whose researchers work to use the body's natural healing powers, in this case through the fibula transfer to the jaw, to improve head and face reconstruction.
Murry said that he is eager to resume his Marine Corps duties.
"I really look forward to getting back to a healthy mindset and working out, running and bodybuilding," he said, adding that he will seek pizza when he again can eat solid food.