Orthognathic Surgery 101

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If your dentist or orthodontist has suggested to you that you might benefit from jaw surgery, you are not alone. Misalignment of the jaw can range from mild to severe, and sometimes orthognathic surgery may be needed. While your orthodontist can correct bite problems involving your teeth, surgery may be needed when the jaws need to be repositioned.

At its core, orthognathic surgery is a single or double jaw surgery that is used to reposition misaligned jaws. This corrective jaw surgery is done by our oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) to fix skeletal and dental problems. It can help you chew, speak and swallow properly as well as measurably improve your appearance.

If you have misalignment issues because of birth defects, TMJ, or trauma to the jaw or face, orthognathic surgery can help. It can also help you if you have an open bite, a receding lower jaw and chin, a protruding jaw, or involuntarily breathing from the mouth. It can help your lips meet together effortlessly and improve your facial appearance from both the front and the side. Even those with sleep apnea who have problems breathing properly while sleeping can benefit from orthognathic surgery.

This is important because an improperly functioning jaw can also affect your overall body health. For example, not being able to chew properly can affect your digestion of food. If it causes snoring and sleep apnea, you can incur a variety of health problems. If there is crowding in your mouth, it can impact your ability to care for your teeth. You can end up being cavity prone and incurring gum disease because of improper oral hygiene. It can also allow your teeth to wear unevenly and result in damaged teeth requiring dental prosthetics. If your appearance is greatly affected by mismatched jaws, your emotional health and self-esteem can be diminished, causing you problems with your social life, work and relationships.

To assess whether you are a viable candidate for orthognathic surgery, your dentist, orthodontist (if you have one) and our OMS will work together. If you are deemed a good candidate for corrective jaw surgery, our oral and maxillofacial surgeon will determine which surgical procedure is best for your needs and perform the surgery. The entire process from start to finish can take several years because orthodontics will also be part of the treatment process.

The goal of the corrective jaw surgery is to align the jaws and also result in facial harmony. Repositioning the jaws may involve movement forward or backward, rotation or moved up or down, and this will affect how the soft tissues in the face (mouth and nose) will move as well. When aligned, your appearance will be markedly harmonized.

To determine if you are a viable candidate, we will consult with you and perform a thorough examination with the help of X-rays. At our office, we employ 2D and 3D images and models so that you can see exactly how your jaw surgery will be accomplished so that you can understand what will be involved.

Once it has been determined that you are a candidate for the surgery, our team will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist to coordinate your treatment. Once your surgery is completed, you can look forward to having your jaws and teeth moved into a pleasing appearance and a healthier functioning jaw.

To learn more about how this surgery may correct your jaw and skeletal alignment issues, please reach out to our team. We look forward to helping you achieve the healthier and aligned smile you deserve.