Jaw Surgery

1 What is a Jaw Surgery?

A surgery that realigns the jaws and teeth to improve your appearance and the way your teeth and jaw works is called jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery.

If you have a moderate to severe jaw problems that cannot be resolved with orthodontics alone, jaw surgery may be an option.

2 Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is a combination of orthodontics and jaw surgery. The common reason for jaw surgery is correcting jaws that do not align properly.

After the growth of your jaw, you can have jaw surgery mostly around 13 to 15 years old for women and 16 to 18 years old for men. 

The benefits of jaw surgery include:

  • Minimize excessive wear and breakdown of the teeth over years of use.
  • Make biting and chewing easier and improve chewing overall.
  • Restore symmetry to middle and lower facial features.
  • Correct facial imbalance and to improve the appearance of deficient chins, underbites, overbites, and crossbites.
  • Improve toothless smiles meaning the lips cover all teeth.
  • Improve gummy smiles meaning the lips do not fully close or pull upward and show large areas of gums.
  • Provide relief for sleep apnea.
  • Reduce the risk of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and other jaw problems.
  • Correct and repair the post-traumatic facial injury, abnormalities, and defects.

3 Potential Risks

The major risks for jaw surgery include:

  • Poor blood supply to the osteotomised jaw segments
  • Bleeding¬†
  • Infection
  • Permanent numbness or tingling to lips, teeth or cheeks
  • Unfavorable bone cuts or splits
  • Jaw joint problems
  • Damage to the teeth
  • Incorrect positioning of the jaws or segments

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In order to prepare for a jaw surgery, your surgeon will conduct a physical examination and will ask about your medical history. He may order blood tests. You should avoid eating and drink anything 6 hours prior to the surgery.

You will be asked to stop smoking two weeks before the surgery. The jaw bones will be held in their new position by small metal plates and screws.

Orthodontic elastics may be placed temporarily to guide the jaws together and will optimize the way that the top and bottom teeth fit together at the end of the operation. Rarely, your jaws may need to be wired together.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your jaw surgery.

Jaw surgery will be done at the hospital and you will have to stay for one or two days. This surgery can be performed inside your mouth so there will be no scars in your face.

Your surgeon will move your jawbones to their correct position by making small incisions.

Bone plates and screws will secure the bones into their new positions once your jaws are properly aligned. In some patients they need extra bone to be added to the jaw.

Your surgeon will get it from your leg, hip or rib and will secure it with temporary wire. It takes up about 3 to 6 weeks for full recovery.

Sometimes an orthodontist will place braces on your teeth before surgery. Braces are usually on for nine to18 months before surgery to level and align your teeth.

Your orthodontist will finish aligning your teeth and eventually remove the braces after your jaw heals from surgery. The entire orthodontic process, including surgery, may last 12 to 24 months.

An upper jaw (maxillary osteotomy) can be performed to correct issues such as:

  • Crossbite
  • Significantly receded upper jaw
  • Open bite
  • Too little or too much of the teeth showing

Your surgeon will cut the bone above your teeth then the jaw and teeth are moved forward until they fit properly with the lower teeth. Plates and screws will hold the bone to its new position once the screw is aligned.

These screws will become integrated into the bone structure over time. An open bite occurs when excess bone grows above the molars, causing what's normally a flat, even surface to become angled.

Chewing will be difficult because when you bite down, your molars touch but your front teeth don't touch each other. Your surgeon will shave away or removes the excess bone to fix open bite.

A lower jaw (mandibular osteotomy) can also be performed by cutting behind the molars and down into the jawbone so the front of the jaw can move as one unit.

A chin surgery can be performed by cutting your chin bone and securing it in a new position.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your jaw surgery results, consult with your doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, mouthwash and analgesics for pain after the procedure. He will provide you with dietary information.

At first, you will have a liquid diet with the reduce amount of fiber. You will have to visit your doctor after one week of surgery.