For many patients, jaw surgery is the only way to align the teeth correctly. Braces and other orthodontic appliances can straighten the teeth, but if your jaws are misaligned, you may need surgery to correct the problem.
Also known as orthognathic surgery, this procedure not only enhances the facial appearance, but it also corrects functional problems to improve chewing, speaking and breathing.
Take a look at what you need to know if you are considering this surgical procedure.
What Is Corrective Jaw Surgery?
Orthognathic procedures are performed by an oral surgeon to restore structure and function to the jaws. Often performed under general anesthesia, orthognathic surgery involves repositioning the jawbones to fit together properly.
Depending upon the patient, portions of the bone may be removed, added or reshaped. Visible scarring is usually minimal, as the operation can usually be completed through incisions inside the mouth. For many patients, orthodontic procedures to straighten the teeth and move them into position are performed prior to corrective jaw surgery.
In conjunction with orthodontics, orthognathic surgery can work to correct a wide range of dental and skeletal irregularities.
Who Can Benefit from Corrective Jaw Surgery?
In some people, the top and bottom jaws may grow at different rates, and as they grow, they become misaligned. Corrective procedures are typically performed after growth has stopped; however, progressive procedures may be necessary along the way for some patients.
People who can benefit from this procedure include those who have an open bite, where the teeth do not touch in front, and those who have a protruding or receding lower jaw.
Other conditions can also indicate a need for orthognathic procedures. Patients who have difficulty chewing or swallowing and those who suffer from sleep apnea or problems with speech can frequently be helped by this surgical procedure. Jaw surgery can also correct an unbalanced facial appearance caused by abnormal jaw growth, birth defects or facial injury.
Evaluating Your Needs
Not everyone is a candidate for orthognathic surgery. Examinations and X-rays, along with computer imaging and three-dimensional models, are used to evaluate a patient’s needs and determine whether the procedure would be beneficial.
Because corrective procedures may require orthodontics before and after surgery, it may take years to complete a course of treatment for some people. Major corrective work can be a long-term commitment, but it can be life-changing for patients who have impaired function and facial appearance.
The results of orthognathic surgery can have a dramatic and positive effect for many patients, making it well worth the time investment.
If you have misalignment in the jaw or other issues that may be helped through orthognathic manipulation, contact Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah to schedule a consultation. Our experienced surgeons can evaluate your case and suggest the least invasive course of action to alleviate the problem. We will be happy to answer all your questions about orthognathic jaw surgery.