Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery
Surgery to correct the size and shape of the jaws is a relatively common procedure, often done in conjunction with orthodontics which is required to align the teeth. The maxilla (upper jaw), the mandible (lower jaw) or both jaws may require surgical correction to treat jaw deformities resulting from either developmental problems or following severe trauma. Orthognathic surgery not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures the teeth meet correctly and function properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
about Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery
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Who Needs Orthognathic Surgery?
People who can benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite or jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a gradual process and in some instances, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that can affect chewing function, speech, long term oral health and appearance. Injuries to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. Orthodontics alone can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved but orthognathic surgery may be required for the jaws when they require repositioning.
Difficulty in the Following Areas Should be Evaluated:
- difficulty in chewing, biting or swallowing.
- speech problems.
- chronic jaw or TMJ pain.
- open bite.
- protruding jaw.
- breathing problems.
Any of these can exist at birth or may be acquired after birth as a result of hereditary or environmental influences or as a result of trauma to the face. Before any treatment begins, a number of consultations will be required to perform a complete examination with x-rays. During the pre-treatment consultation process, feel free to ask any questions that you have regarding your treatment. When you are fully informed about the aspects of your care, you and your surgical and orthodontic team will make the decision to proceed with treatment together.
Technology and Orthognathic Surgery:
Dr. Bowler uses modern computer techniques and three-dimensional models to show you exactly how your surgery will be approached. Using comprehensive facial X-rays and computer imaging, we can show you how your bite will be improved and we can often give you an idea of how you will look after surgery, although this is a computer generated lateral profile and most people assess themselves from the front. None-the-less, the computer imaging will help you understand the surgical process and the extent of the treatment prescribed and you will be able to see the benefits of orthognathic surgery.
If you are a candidate for corrective jaw surgery, Dr. Bowler will work closely with your restorative dentist and orthodontist during your treatment.
Orthognathic (jaw) surgery is performed within a hospital environment and usually requires a stay of 3-5 days, depending on the procedure. It is rare to wire the jaw together these days due to the use of rigid internal fixation (bone plates and screws). These devices are used to hold the jaw fragments in their new position. Quite often elastic traction may be used in conjunction with an occlusal wafer to guide the teeth into their new position during the first 6-8 weeks whilst the bones heal.