Corrective jaw surgery – also called orthognathic surgery – is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS). This surgery is performed to correct a wide range of skeletal and dental irregularities, stemming from misalignment of the jaws and teeth. Orthognathic surgery is painless most of the time., and is often covered by medical insurance.
Orthognathic surgery treats jaw irregularities to improve the patient’s ability to bite, talk, breathe and speak. This procedure also improves facial appearances and corrects deformities by properly aligning the facial bones. Moving the jaw bones also moves the teeth, so braces are used in conjunction with corrective jaw surgery. This helps to ensure the teeth and jaw bones are aligning after surgery.
If you experience any of the following symptoms or conditions, this may indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery:
- Difficulty chewing or biting food
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headaches
- Excessive wear of the teeth
- Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
- Unbalanced facial appearance from the front or side
- Facial injury
- Birth defects
- Receding lower jaw and chin
- Protruding jaw
- Inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)
Your dentist, orthodontist and OMS will decide together if you are a candidate for orthognathic surgery. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon is responsible for determining the specific type of jaw surgery necessary, and he or she performs the surgery. It’s important to understand that your treatment will likely incorporate an orthodontic treatment of braces or Invisalign, before and after surgery, and may take a few years to be completed.
Your OMS and Dr. King know this is a commitment for you and your family. We will do everything we can to support you throughout your treatment, provide you with all of the information and resources you need, and ensure that you have a realistic expectation of the process.
Orthognathic surgery and subsequent therapy can be a relatively complicated process. We help break it down in the following stages:
Stage 1: Diagnosis and Planning
The diagnosis and planning stage lasts about a month. Exams and tests are performed by your oral surgeon, and the oral surgeon will meet with other team members to create a comprehensive plan for you. Creating this comprehensive plan includes your oral surgery team, Dr. King, and sometimes speech or language therapists. Specialists will take photos of your jaw and use programming to forecast surgery results.
Stage 2: Surgery Preparation
The time period for this stage relies on your specific needs. Some patients may need dental work to address other dental medical problems, before they’re prepared for surgery. If you have wisdom teeth, they must be removed so that they do not get in the way of the surgical cuts. Dr. King is a proponent of surgery first, before braces, if the patient qualifies. Before surgery, you’ll meet with your surgeon to understand what you can expect during and after your surgery.
Stage 3: Surgery and Recovery
You’ll undergo surgery in a hospital or a qualified medical facility. You will start out with a liquid diet, and will be monitored by medical staff while you recover from anesthesia.
Stage 4: Home Recovery
Once you are home, it is highly recommended to rest as much as possible. Your surgeon will tell you the approximate recovery time that you should adhere to. While you are in recovery, the doctors will provide instructions on the pain medication and antibiotics you should take. Start with a delicate eating regimen and steadily work your way back to a normal diet. It’s imperative you attend all of your follow-up appointments as directed by your surgeon! You will need to commit to an effective oral hygiene routine to minimize the risk of infection and to propel the healing process.
Have questions about corrective jaw surgery?
If you recognize some of the symptoms or conditions that may indicate the need for surgical orthodontics, we encourage you to request your complimentary exam with us today. Dr. King has extensive experience detecting problematic orthodontic conditions and providing solutions that help you reach your goals. We want to help you live your greatest quality of life—and that has everything to do with your smile!