Corrective Jaw Surgery (Orthognatic)
Orthognathic surgery is needed when jaws do not meet correctly and/or teeth do not seem to fit with jaws. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics and corrective jaw surgery repositions misaligned jaws. This not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly. The causes of a misaligned jaw go from birth defects, trauma or abnormal growth.
Who needs orthognathic surgery?
The most common conditions associated with misaligned jaws are: mandibular prognathism (enlarged mandible), mandibular retrognathism/micrognathism (small mandible), open bite (separation between the upper and lower teeth) and vertical maxillary excess (excessive anterior teeth show and gummy smile). Orthodontics alone can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved. Orthognathic surgery may be required for the jaws when repositioning is necessary.
What are the signs and symptoms of a misaligned jaw?
While a greatly protruding overbite or underbite is easily discernible, a misaligned jaw is much more subtle. Inadequate facial appearance is the main reason of patients seeking surgical treatment. You should also get an evaluation by an oral & maxillofacial surgeon if you suffer from any of the following symptoms: speech problems; chewing, swallowing, and/or biting that are painful or difficult, jaw pain (could be the result of temporomandibular joint disorder) and/or difficulty breathing (snoring).
What are treatment options?
The first step in repositioning a misaligned jaw is a thorough examination through x-rays, photos and models of your jaws and teeth. This type of procedure typically has to be coordinated together between your oral & maxillofacial surgeon and your orthodontist. The latest will then align your teeth with braces and the surgeon will operate in the maxilla, mandible or both jaws. The procedure is performed in the hospital under general anesthesia and the patient can be discharge the same day or the day after the surgery. Once surgery is completed, your teeth and jaws will have been moved into a new, more attractive position that will provide you with better jaw functionality and excellent facial appearance. The results of orthognathic surgery are permanent.
How is the recovery process?
The pain in recovering from corrective jaw surgery is comparable to having your wisdom teeth extracted. You should expect pain, swelling, and bruising; numbness around your jaw bone for several weeks to months; sometimes elastics fitted to your jaw to keep your new bite in place as your bones heal, consuming a blended, liquid diet for two weeks before moving into softer foods like pasta and eggs for the next four to six weeks, being absent from work for a week or two and engaging in zero physical activity for three to four weeks.