What is orthognathic surgery?
Orthognathic surgery is surgery performed on the bones of the jaws to change their positions. Orthognathic surgery is corrective facial surgery where deformities of the jaw exist. It may be indicated for functional, cosmetic, or health reasons. It is surgery commonly done on the jaws in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, which straightens the teeth.
How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?
Facial imbalances are often present and sometimes recognized by the untrained eye. People with large jaws, or chins, or small jaws or chins, teeth which don't fit together, eyeballs which appear bulging, and flat cheekbones are examples of facial characteristics that may be improved by orthognathic surgery. Sometimes the differences are so subtle that only a trained specialist can recognize them. The orthodontist or oral maxillofacial surgeon recognizes the need for surgical repositioning of segments of facial bones or teeth. An evaluation by such a specialist will often easily determine if you are a candidate for this type of surgery.
Will I have to have orthodontics?
In most cases where the jaws are being moved, comprehensive orthodontic movement of the teeth may be necessary to prepare the teeth for optimal occlusion or biting positions. Following surgery there is often a short period of orthodontics for subtle and fine detailing of the tooth positions.
What is the surgery like?
Some minor orthognathic surgery procedures can be done in the surgeon's office, but most often they are done in the hospital. Surgery usually lasts three to four hours during which time you will be completely asleep. While you are asleep, incisions are made on the inside of your mouth to expose the bones to be cut. The procedures are then carried out. Screws are used to hold the bones and the teeth are not usually wired together at all. The incisions are closed with sutures, and you are ready for recovery.
How long does recovery last?
The length of recovery in the hospital may vary from one to three days following surgery. During the week following surgery, activities should be limited. All strenuous activities and heavy exercise should be avoided the first month after surgery. Swelling is common, and a brief period of facial discoloration is possible. Often orthognathic surgery is easier to recover from than the extraction of impacted wisdom teeth.
What if I don't have the surgery?
Facial and dental imbalances have influences on function, health, and appearance. Not treating a functional problem may prevent you from being able to bite and chew your food, close your lips together, and to speak clearly. The health of the teeth, gums and particularly the jaw joint (TMJ) may be in jeopardy if surgery is not done. While not often a primary reason for orthognathic surgery, the appearance of your face may be made to look more balanced or normal. One's facial appearance can influence one's quality of life in many ways.
Orthognathic Surgery Case Examples:
Jaws Not Coming Together
Large Lower Jaw
Small Lower Jaw
Small Upper Jaw