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What You Should Know About Corrective Jaw Surgery
There are many reasons why patients get corrective jaw surgery, from the need to improve major/minor skeletal and dental irregularities to misalignment of the jaws and teeth. Jaw surgery is performed by an oral or maxillofacial surgeon, or a facial cosmetic surgeon, depending on the case. If surgery can drastically improve the patient's appearance and treat the alignment issues, then a facial cosmetic surgeon will complete the procedure.
Corrective jaw surgery
Orthognathic surgery corrects any number of functional problems, including:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty chewing or biting food
- Chronic jaw or joint (also known as TMJ) pain with accompanying headache
- Excessive wear-and-tear on the teeth
- An unbalanced facial appearance when viewed from the front or side
- A receding chin
- A protruding jaw
- The inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Significant problems with mouth breathing or dry mouth
- Sleep apnea
- An open bite
What is involved before surgery
Corrective jaw surgery is one of the necessary steps to improve the functionality and aesthetics of the patient's jaw bone. Before the surgery, we will use orthodontic braces to move the teeth into a new position. During this phase, many patients feel as if their bite is actually getting worse rather than better. In reality, the bite is getting better and falling closer into proper alignment before the actual procedure.
Once the surgeon repositions the jaw through the surgical process, the teeth will fit together the way they are supposed to. The surgeon will take additional steps during the pre-surgical orthodontic treatment. Additional steps will include taking X-rays, pictures and models of the patient's teeth. These additional steps will help guide the surgeon during the actual surgical process.
The surgery itself
Depending on the level of complexity in the procedure, the surgeon may perform the surgery with the patient under general anesthesia at a local hospital or at the orthodontist's office. The surgery can take between one to several hours to complete. During the surgical process, the oral surgeon will reposition the jawbones in accordance with the plan.
In some cases, we may need to add bone or take some of the bone away. There may even be a need to simply reshape the bone during the surgery. We often use surgical plates, screws, wires and rubber bands to hold the jaw in the new position. We typically make all incisions on the inside of the mouth in order to reduce any visible scarring.
After the corrective jaw surgery
After completing the surgery, the oral surgeon will give the patient instructions with regards to a modified diet. The new diet may include some solids, as well as a lot of liquids. There will be a schedule for transitioning to a normal diet over the next few weeks. We ask patients to refrain from using any tobacco products or engaging in any strenuous physical activity.
While discomfort following the surgery is common, the patient can easily control it with over-the-counter medications. Most patients find that they are able to return to work or school, between one and three weeks after the surgery. Naturally, this depends on how the patient is feeling.
To learn more about the process of jaw surgery, call our office and schedule a consultation.