Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery, is a procedure with several benefits. For our patients with jaw problems that cannot be fixed with orthodontics alone, orthognathic surgery is often the most viable treatment option. Orthognathic surgery can correct jawbone irregularities, realign the jaws, improve the movement of jaws and teeth, and enhance facial appearance.
In most cases, patients will wear braces before surgery, during the recovery period, and after their procedure. These braces will remain on the patient until proper alignment is complete.
Orthognathic surgery is typically done once patients have finished growing. The appropriate age range for surgery is about 17-21 for male patients and 14-16 for female patients.
Following the procedure, our surgeon and nurses will provide you with instructions regarding proper oral hygiene, pain medications, and diet plans. All surgical patients must refrain from tobacco and strenuous activity for an extended period following surgery.
The initial healing of the jaw will take around 6 weeks, but patients can return to work or school within 1-3 weeks, provided that strenuous activity is not involved. After the initial 6-week healing process, one of our specialists will finish aligning your teeth with braces.
An entire orthodontic process, including surgery and braces, can take several years. Once braces are removed, retainers may be necessary to hold teeth in place.
Q. When is jaw surgery necessary?
There are a number of situations in which orthognathic surgery may be necessary for a patient. Orthognathic surgery is a viable procedure if the patient’s intended final result is to minimize wear and breakdown of teeth or improve motion and contact when biting and chewing. Surgery may also be necessary for alleviating problems associated with congenital disabilities, facial injuries, sleep apnea, and TMJ disorders.
Additionally, orthognathic surgery can correct speech problems, swallowing difficulties, inadequate airway volume, an inability to properly close the lips or jaws, or facial asymmetry.
Q. What is the procedure for orthognathic surgery?
In our office, orthognathic surgery is performed under general anesthesia, taking between 2-4 hours. We aim to perform all aspects of the surgery inside the mouth, preventing incisions or facial scarring on the jaw, chin, or anywhere else on the outside of the mouth. In some cases, however, we may need to make small incisions around the outside of the mouth. If you have any concerns regarding facial incisions or scars, this can be discussed with our surgeon during your consultation.
The surgery process begins with our surgeon making cuts in the jaw bones. This will allow him to move the bone into the proper position. While positioning the bone, he may use metal screws, small wires, small bone plates, and bands to keep the bones in their new positions. Over time, the screws will bond with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. In some cases, our surgeon may need to reshape existing bone or add bone mass to the jaw in order to provide support to these screws.
Q. What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?
Our nurses and surgical team are committed to providing you a safe and successful procedure. Nevertheless, all surgical procedures carry some element of risk, and this includes orthognathic surgery.
Potential orthognathic surgery risks include infection, blood loss, nerve injury, joint pain in the jaw, and issues with the alignment and fit of your bite. The jaw can potentially suffer from fractures or a piece of bone breaking off. In rare cases, surgical patients may have their jaw relapse back to its original position. Root canal therapy or further surgery may be necessary for some patients.
Following surgery, patients are likely to experience pain, inflammation, and eating problems. Eating difficulties are treatable with nutritional supplements. Patients may also benefit from speaking with a dietitian and following a dedicated meal plan post-surgery.
For more information or to schedule a consultation for jaw surgery, please give us a call at 214-363-9946.