What is Orthognathic Surgery?
Orthognathic surgery is best known as jaw correction surgery. It refers to any procedure that involves the jaw. The surgeries correct jaws that are misaligned, overgrown, underdeveloped, malformed, asymmetrical or disproportional. Orthognathic surgery also corrects cleft palates and sleep apnea caused by malocclusions.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform most jaw correction surgeries. Their patients have certain conditions and symptoms that a general dentist cannot treat.
Many of the patients need the surgery to chew, breathe or talk without difficulty. Any improvement in their appearance is a bonus.
All about orthognathic surgery
Who is a candidate for orthognathic surgery?
In many cases, a damaged or poorly formed jaw causes symptoms that make a person’s daily life difficult. These are some of the symptoms that will cause a dentist or physician to refer a person to an oral surgeon:
- Breathing problems: A person who suffers from sleep apnea may need jaw correction surgery to improve their breathing.
- Pain caused by a trauma or injury: Like other bones in the body, the jaws can become fractured or dislocated, and an oral surgeon may be needed to restore the jaw
- TMJ pain: TMJ disorders sometimes need to be corrected surgically
- A protruding jaw: A person who has a jaw that protrudes over the other may have trouble fwhen eating, talking or breathing
- A receding lower jaw: Like a protruding jaw, a receding jaw makes it difficult for a person to breathe, talk or eat
- Congenital disabilities: Oral surgeons also repair congenital conditions like cleft palates
- Difficulty closing the mouth: Anyone who cannot close their lips over their teeth without straining is also a candidate for orthognathic surgery
These are some of the problems that an oral and maxillofacial surgeon can address. Often, the surgery is only one part of the treatment process.
Orthognathic surgery and orthodontic treatment
Once a patient has been cleared for jaw correction surgery, the oral surgeon may prescribe orthodontic treatment in preparation for the surgery. This is usually the case when the operation is meant to correct a bad bite caused by poorly aligned or malformed jaws.
Orthodontic devices reshape or reposition the patient’s jaw.
After a patient heals from surgery, they may continue orthodontic treatment for six to 12 months.
The process of orthognathic surgery
Once the orthodontic appliances have done their work, an oral surgeon performs the jaw correction. Most of the time, the surgery occurs in a hospital where the patient spends a night for observation.
Sometimes, jaw correction can be done as an outpatient procedure, especially if a person only needs a minor adjustment.
Generally, orthognathic surgery looks like this:
- The patient receives a general anesthesia
- An oral surgeon will make incisions in the inside of the mouth so that they can access the jaw. In rare cases, the surgeon will access the jaw by making incisions on the outside of the mouth
- Where necessary, the surgeon will make exact cuts to the jawbone to divide the jaw into several parts
- The surgeon will then position the parts in a way that corrects the problem in the jaw. They will hold the pieces in place with bone screws and plates
During the surgery, the doctor will remove any deformities and problems they find in the jaw before closing the incisions.
Is the surgery risky?
Like all surgeries, orthognathic surgery comes with risks. When a surgeon recommends jaw correction surgery, they inform their patient of the dangers before asking for the patient’s consent.
That said, orthognathic procedures have a very high success rate.
Finding the right surgeon
Once you find an oral surgeon with vast experience in jaw correction surgeries, you can rest easy knowing that your treatment will be successful.
Call our office to learn more about our jaw correction services.