Orthognathic surgery is the technical term for corrective jaw surgery. Surgery to correct a problem with the jaw will only be recommended if all nonsurgical treatments fail to correct the problem. Orthognathic surgery is performed to correct both functional problems in the jaw, and as a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of the face. Studies show that the overwhelming number of patients who undergo orthognathic surgery report that the surgery had a positive impact on the quality of their lives.
Why Would Someone Need Corrective Jaw Surgery Correct?
Corrective jaw surgery is most frequently performed to correct dental and skeletal abnormalities that prevent the mouth and jaw from normal function. Irregularities may include a severe overbite, underbite, or open bite. All types of malocclusion can make it difficult to chew, bite, swallow, or speak. Misaligned jaws may also obstruct the airway. Problems within the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that cause pain in the jaw and face may also require surgery to correct.
Other patients may seek corrective jaw surgery to correct an imbalanced face that results from a small chin or bite issue. Finally, those who suffered a severe injury due to a fall, vehicular accident, or sports injury, may require corrective jaw surgery.
What to Expect with Orthognathic Surgery
If you require orthognathic surgery to correct a problem with your jaw, your orthognathic surgeon will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist at every stage leading up to your surgery. This is to ensure that the teeth are healthy and that your jaw will be properly aligned following surgery.
Corrective jaw surgery is typically performed in a hospital. You will likely remain in the hospital overnight, as you will be completely anesthetized during the surgery. You may or may not need to have your jaw wired closed after your surgery.
After your surgery, you will be put on a liquid diet initially, followed by a soft-food diet. In the weeks following your surgery, you will return to the surgeon for follow-up appointments frequently. At follow-up appointments, digital x-rays will be taken to evaluate the healing process. Any sutures you received will either be removed or will dissolve in the weeks following your surgery.
It will take approximately two months before the bone has hardened enough to return to a normal diet. Most patients will return to their orthodontist for post-surgical treatment to make final adjustments to the bite.
Benefits of Orthognathic Surgery
Although corrective jaw surgery is major surgery, and a full recovery can take many months, the surgery offers many benefits including: