Orthognathic surgery is a highly reliable procedure that corrects severe malocclusions and jaw deformities and improves the relationship between the upper and lower jaw. For many people with more severe bite problems, orthognathic surgery is a saving grace and allows them to live without discomfort and show off a beautiful smile.
However, orthognathic surgery is no magic cure, and as with anything, there are risks, certain cases it is unable to treat, and a certain amount of recovery time involved.
What is Orthognathic Surgery?
Orthognathic surgery, also known as corrective jaw surgery, is a transformative procedure that addresses various bite problems and facial irregularities. Individuals with difficulties chewing, speaking, or breathing due to misaligned jaws can benefit significantly from jaw surgery.
It is a specialised procedure performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons and involves moving jaw bones into their desired positions and secured by tiny screws and plates that stay in place under the gum. A general anaesthetic is used during the process, and it can be a very effective way to encourage the teeth and jaw to meet properly, addressing issues like overbites, underbites, crossbites, and facial asymmetry.
These misalignments can be a result of genetics, trauma, or developmental issues. Malocclusions not only affect the aesthetics of the face but can also lead to functional problems, impacting speech, chewing, and overall oral health.
What Types of Malocclusions Does Orthognathic Surgery Treat?
There is a range of malocclusions that orthognathic surgery can help with, alongside aesthetics and lifestyle improvements, including:
- Underbite (Prognathism) which occurs when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw.
- Overbite (Class II Malocclusion) is characterised by the upper jaw significantly overlapping the lower jaw.
- Crossbite which involves the misalignment of the upper and lower jaws, causing some upper teeth to sit inside the lower teeth.
- Open Bite which occurs when there is a gap between the upper and lower front teeth even when the mouth is closed.
- Rebalancing facial asymmetry which refers to the uneven development of the facial bones, resulting in a lopsided appearance.
- Correcting problems with swallowing and speech.
- Improve the ability of lips to close fully and comfortably.
- Relieve symptoms of disruptive sleep apnea.
- Relieve TMJ disorder (temporomandibular joint pain) and other jaw problems.
- Improve chewing action and make biting and chewing easier.
- Minimise excessive wear and breakdown of teeth.
- Correct bite fit and jaw closure such as open bite, where the molars touch but the front teeth don’t.
- Repair facial injury and birth defects.
What's Involved in the Orthognathic Surgery Process?
Treatment is carried out over a period of 2 ½ to 3 years, starting with the fixing of metal braces, in most cases, to help reposition the teeth. Around two-thirds of the way through orthodontic treatment is when you should be ready for jaw surgery.
Orthognathic surgery can be carried out on the upper and lower jaw and chin and is usually performed inside the mouth. Only on very few occasions will small incisions be required outside the mouth, meaning that visible scarring is minimal to none. Surgery can be planned on a computer to determine if additional work is needed, such as orthodontics, to help correct any remaining fit issues, after the procedure.
Upper Jaw Surgery – Maxillary Osteotomy.
Surgery carried out on the upper jaw (maxillary osteotomy) can correct crossbite and open bite, too much or too little of the teeth showing, a receding or protruding upper jaw and the reduced facial growth of the middle of the face (midfacial hypoplasia). During surgery, your surgeon will make an incision above your teeth, so that the entire upper jaw, including the roof of your mouth and upper teeth, is moved forward as one unit until they fit properly with the lower teeth. With an open bite, your surgeon will shave away or remove the excess that has grown above the molars, causing a normally flat surface to become angled. Once realigned, the jawbone is held in place with plates and screws.
Lower Jaw Surgery – Mandibular Osteotomy.
Surgery carried out on the lower jaw (mandibular osteotomy) is used to correct a receding lower jaw and a protruding lower jaw. Surgeons will cut behind the molars and lengthwise down the jawbone to enable the front of the jaw to be moved either forward or backward. It is then held together with plates and screws until it’s healed.
Chin Surgery – Genioplasty.
Chin surgery (genioplasty) can be used to correct a small chin, which often accompanies a severely receded lower jaw. Surgeons can restructure the chin and alter the jaw during the same surgery by cutting a piece of chin bone from the front of the jaw, moving it forward, and securing it into place with plates and screws.
Recovering From Jaw Surgery
After surgery, most patients stay in the hospital anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the operation but depending on how you feel physically will determine when you’re able to go home. It is advised to take around 2 to 4 weeks off work to allow ample time to recover, but again this time will be dependent on the severity of your case. Avoiding sports for the first 4 weeks is essential and contact sports should be avoided for at least 6 to 8 weeks after.
You will be able to open and close your mouth straight after surgery, but movement will be restricted due to soreness, swelling, and elastic bands holding your jaw in its new position. It is encouraged to eat and drink from the very first day after surgery, starting with soft mushy foods and gradually re-introducing a more normal diet over the next few weeks when the pain and swelling subsides.
After surgery, you will have regular painkillers whilst in hospital and some to take home with you also. Swelling is usually worse around 3 to 4 days after the operation, as things start to settle down, after this swelling and bruising get better and should disappear over the next couple of weeks.
What to do if You Are Seeking Orthognathic Surgery
If you are seeking orthognathic surgery in Oldham, our team of fully trained and experienced clinicians regularly undertake this type of work, meaning all our patients are in good hands. We ensure a smooth end-to-end process with complex, interdisciplinary care, and regular check-up appointments to ensure that your recovery is going well and remaining on track.
You can rest assured that in seeking jaw surgery in Oldham, we offer the specialist treatment and care needed to perform a successful orthognathic operation. Contact Oldham Orthodontics today to arrange your free consultation and begin your journey to a better and happier smile.