When Jaw Surgery may be Necessary

There are many instances when jaw surgery may be necessary. Corrective Jaw Surgery is also called Orthognathic Surgery and is used to correct a wide range of minor and major dental and skeletal abnormalities, jaw_surgery1either naturally-occurring or caused by accidents or disease. It covers many different areas of the face and head including the jaws, teeth, chin and cheekbones. Most jaw surgery is undertaken in an effort to improve function. It can help improve speaking, eating, chewing, and even breathing. It is less regularly used for cosmetic reasons.

Conditions when Jaw Surgery may be Necessary

Many factors can cause jaws to become misaligned. Sometimes, the upper and lower jaws grow at different rates, sometimes birth defects or abnormalities are to blame, and often injuries cause jaw problems.

Jaw surgery may be necessary if you have any of the following and orthodontics has proven ineffective:

  • Chronic jaw joint or jaw pain and headaches or temporomandibular disorders (TMD, TMJ).
  • An open bite, underbite, or crossbite.
  • Birth defects or facial injury.
  • Inability to make lips touch without strain.
  • Difficulty biting and chewing food.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Unbalanced facial appearance.
  • Chronic dry mouth and mouth breathing.
  • Excessive tooth wear.
  • Protruding jaw.
  • Receding chin.

Deciding when jaw surgery may be necessary is a team approach. You’ll meet with your primary care physician, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and an orthodontist to determine whether or not you need corrective jaw surgery. From there, a treatment plan will be designed to correct your problem. Treatment usually includes orthodontics both before and after the surgery, which increases the total treatment time.

Having Jaw Surgery

Usually jaw surgery isn’t attempted until growth has stopped; sometime in the mid to late teen years, at the earliest. This is because any further growth after the surgery could affect the long-term results.

Jaw surgery takes place almost entirely within the mouth on either the upper or lower jaw, or both. That means there won’t be any noticeable scars on your head, face, or neck. During surgery, screws and bone plates are used to move the jaw into the new position – and keep it there. If extra bone is required, the surgeon may remove bone from your hip, leg, or rib and use wires to secure it. Jaw surgery is not an outpatient procedure, requiring a 1-2 day hospital stay for uncomplicated surgeries.

At-home recovery may take as much as 3-6 weeks, but the entire process can take as long as 12-24 months, particularly if pre- or post-surgery braces are required. Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah to determine if you have one or more conditions when jaw surgery may be necessary.