Orthognathic Surgery (Corrective Jaw Surgery)
Eating and biting can be difficult for people whose jaws and teeth don’t meet correctly. Some people may be troubled because their faces appear “unbalanced.” Orthognathic surgery is designed to correct these problems which are due to deformities caused by the way in which the teeth and jaw have grown, disease, or injury. The result can be an abnormal relationship between the upper and lower teeth.
People who may benefit from corrective jaw surgery include those with an improper bite resulting from misaligned teeth and/or jaws. In some cases, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. Injuries and birth defects also affect jaw alignment. While orthodontics can usually correct bite, or “occlusion,” problems when only the teeth are misaligned, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary to correct the misalignment of the jaws.
Prior to Procedure:
Your orthodontist and oral surgeon work together to evaluate your problem and come up with a treatment plan. The orthodontist will determine how braces can prepare you for surgery and the oral surgeon will perform the procedure. Before treatment begins, a complete history is taken and x-rays of your mouth and skull may be ordered. Casts are usually made if the teeth and photographs taken for later comparisons. Before any work is done, you may be advised to visit your general dentist for a cleaning and to treat any other problems that you may have. Prior to the surgery, braces will be positioned in your mouth by your orthodontist who will watch your progress very carefully. The braces are worn for several months, but the time varies from each individual. When your orthodontist and oral surgeon have determined that your teeth have moved into the correct position, the surgery will be scheduled.
The procedure used to correct your jaw problem will depend on the particular condition you have. Incisions are made within the mouth so that scars will not be visible. Often the jaw is sectioned and then moved to the proper location. Bones are kept from moving with the use of special appliances which the surgeon chooses. These may be screws, plates, splints, or wires. You will be given care instructions on when and how to clean your mouth. You will be advised to drink lots of fluids in order to prevent dehydration and a soft foods diet will be recommended. Facial exercises to help improve the flexibility of your jaw may be suggested. Changes in your appearance may not be immediately noticeable because of swelling around the area. As the swelling goes down dramatic changes may be apparent depending on the procedure.
After the Procedure:
You may be wearing braces for a year or more after surgery which will require you to visit your orthodontist regularly. The orthodontist will make certain your teeth are moving into the correct position by adjusting the braces. When the teeth are positioned correctly, the braces will be removed; however another appliance, a retainer or positioner may be recommended. Your surgeon will see you soon after the surgery and will remove those appliances such as wires that need to come out.