Corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is used to correct misalignments and problems with the jawbone that can’t be fixed using traditional braces.
You may see a major difference in your appearance after surgery, but the prevailing benefit is the long-term health of your jawbone and teeth ― that’s the goal of corrective jaw surgery procedures.
Who Benefits from the Procedure?
A multitude of conditions warrant corrective jaw surgery, including temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and related symptoms such as chronic headaches and jaw aches. It also may be recommended if you have a skeletal overgrowth or undergrowth that makes it difficult to chew or swallow.
Other problems might include the inability to completely close your mouth, a sharply protruding overbite or underbite, or sleep apnea. Injuries may also warrant surgery to repair a drooping section of the face and restore any bone loss or fragmentation.
Types of Jaw Surgery
You may be a candidate for upper or lower jaw surgery, or the oral surgeon may recommend adjustments to both sections.
For example, a patient with a severe underbite would benefit from lower jaw surgery, where the rear lower portion is separated from the front portion in which the teeth are implanted. Then the rear section of bone can be altered to make additional room for the entire lower jaw to slide further into the mouth.
A similar procedure on the upper portion of the jaw may help in the case of a severe overbite.
Repositioning a jawbone can be done in several ways. The procedure usually takes place while the patient is under general anesthesia, so no pain is involved. The surgeon may separate the jaw into segments or opt to move the entire jaw portion at once. The jaw then is stabilized in its new position with the appropriate plates and screws, and the recovery process begins.
How Long Is Recovery?
Patients typically receive prescription pain medications to ease discomfort throughout the recovery process. You will visit the surgeon’s office for follow-up testing to ensure you are healing correctly. Two weeks following the surgery, the surgeon will remove any sutures, and all swelling will begin to go down.
Depending on the scope of the procedure, the bone may not fully heal for up to a year, but normal use of the jaw can be resumed within a few weeks, depending on your healing progress and the surgeon’s suggestions.
As with all procedures, the type and extent of any jaw surgery will depend on your preferences and your doctor’s professional opinion as to the best approach. Call Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery today to find out about how we can resolve your jawbone irregularities.