Jaw surgery also termed as orthognathic surgery, is performed to connect irregularities of the jaw bones to realign the jaws and teeth for improvement in the way they work. Making these connections can also help in improving your facial appearance.
Jaw surgery is often considered as an option if you are facing jaw problems that can’t be addressed with orthodontics. Sometimes you also need braces on your teeth before and after surgery until healing and the alignment is done. To determine your treatment plan, your orthodontist will need to work with your oral and jaw and face surgeon.
The appropriate time for conducting jaw surgery is usually after growth stops, which is ages 14 to 16 for females, and ages 17 to 21 for males.
Jaw surgery is considered to help with several factors such as:
- Adjusting your bite, which is how your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
- Correcting conditions that can affect your face’s symmetry
- Repairing injuries or congenital conditions that involve the face, such as a cleft palate
- Help easing pain caused by a temporomadibular joint disorder
- Helping prevent further wear and tear to the teeth
- Making it easier to bite, chew and swallow
- Addressing breathing problems, like obstructive sleep apnea or mouth breathing
Generally, in most cases, an orthodontist puts braces on your teeth before the surgery is performed. Braces are usually on for 12 to 18 months before the surgery is performed in order to help in leveling and aligning your teeth.
Your orthodontist will work together with your maxillofacial surgeon to develop a treatment plan. X-rays, pictures and models of your teeth are part of the planning for the surgery. On some occasions, the difference in the way that the teeth fit together can require either reshaping of the teeth, covering the teeth with crowns or both to finish the correction.
Sometimes to help in the movement of teeth, three-dimensional CT scanning, computer-guided treatment planning and temporary orthodontic anchoring devises might be used. In some cases, these efforts might even completely eliminate the need for a jaw surgery.
Sometimes, virtual surgical planning can and will be used to guide your surgeon to fit and correct the jaw segment position during the procedure to help achieve the most optimal result.
Surgical procedures can usually be performed inside the mouth, therefore, no facial scars will show up on your chin, jaw or around your mouth. However, once in a while, there might be a requirement for small incisions outside your mouth.
Your surgeon will make the cuts in the jawbones after which he will move them to the right position. After the development of the jaw is completed, miniscule bone plates, screws wires and elastic bands can be utilized to make sure that the bones are secured properly in the new positions.
At times, an additional bone might have to be added to the jaw. Your surgeon will move the bone from your hip, rib or leg and protect it with plates and screws. In some cases the bone can be reshaped as well, to give it a superior fit.
Jaw surgery is performed on the upper jaw, lower jaw, chin and sometimes any combination of these.
Surgery which is performed on the upper jaw is meant to correct:
- Significantly receded or protruding upper jaw
- Open bite
- Too little or too much of the teeth showing
- Reduced facial growth in the middle of the face
Your surgeon will cut the bone over your teeth with the aim that the whole top jaw which includes the top of your mouth as well as your upper teeth should move out as one unit. The jaw and upper teeth are moved ahead until they can fit appropriately with the lower teeth. This can be planned using a computer, to determine if additional work such as orthodontics will be required to help correct any remaining fit difference.
An open bite will occur when excess bone growth occurs above the jaw, which will cause what’s normally a flat even surface to become angled. In order to fix this, your surgeon can shave away or remove the excess bone.
Once the jaw has been realigned, plates and screws can hold the bone in its new position.
A lower jaw surgery can help to connect:
- Receding lower jaw
- Protruding lower jaw
Your surgeon makes the cuts at the back of the molars as well as lengthwise down the jawbone. Due to this, the the front of the jaw can move as one unit. After this, the jaw can be moved to its new position, which can be forward or backward. Plates can help in holding the jawbone together while it is healing.
A chin surgery or genioplasty is used to correct a small or deficient chin, which often accompanies a severely receded lower jaw. Surgeons can alter the jaw, and then restructure the chin during one single surgery. The surgeon first cuts one piece of the chin bone on the front of the jaw, moves it forward, after which he secures it in a new position with the help of plates and screws.
Majority of people usually remain in the hospital for 1 to 4 days after completing the procedure.
When you’re at the point where you’re ready to leave, you’ll be given guidlines for your meals as well for maintaining oral cleanliness. It is also quite important that you adhere to these guidelines cautiously during recuperation.
After your surgery, it is also possible that you will encounter swelling, stiffness or inconvenience in your face and jaw. These problems ought to disappear within some time. Your doctor will provide you prescriptions in order to help with these side effects.
From time to time, you might also encounter numbness in your top or base lip. This is typically temporary and should disappear over some weeks or months. In some uncommon cases, it can be lasting.
Recovery can take somewhere between 6 to 12 months. After some weeks of recovery, your orthodontist will continue adjusting your teeth using braces. After the braces are removed, your orthodontist will provide you with a retainer which will help in keeping your teeth aligned.
Jaw surgery is generally safe when it is performed by an accomplished oral and maxillofacial surgeon, often collaborated with an orthodontist. Still, there are risks associated with this surgery, which can include:
- Blood loss
- Nerve injury
- Jaw relapse back to the original place
- Jaw break
- Issues regarding bite fit and jaw joint plan
- Requirement for additional surgery
- Requirement for root canal treatment on selected teeth
- Loss of a jaw portion
After the surgery, you might go through:
- Pain and swelling
- Issues with eating which can be addressed by nutritional supplements
- A short time of adjustment to another facial appearance