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jaw surgery recovery

Making the decision to have orthognathic, or jaw, surgery is no small decision, it requires time, money, and most of all patience and trust. If you have spoken with your dentist or orthodontist about your dental issues and they have advised that jaw surgery is the best option for you, you may be feeling overwhelmed with what’s involved in the surgery itself and how it will affect your life afterward.

We have all the information you need at Oldham Orthodontics, in terms of what’s involved in the surgery itself and how to manage your lifestyle after the surgery has taken place. If you are looking for orthognathic surgery in Oldham, we are here to help.

Orthognathic Surgery: What’s Involved?

Jaw surgery is used in severe cases of dental misalignments to reposition the upper and lower jaw. The surgery is carried out under general anaesthesia, meaning that you will be in the hospital for the procedure, and it works to create balance and allow the teeth and jaws to meet properly.

During surgery, jaw bones are moved to their desired positions and secured into place with tiny screws that stay in place underneath the gum. Small elastic bands are used between the top and bottom brace, to help guide the teeth into their new bite position. In more severe cases, the jaw could be wired together, but this isn’t usual practice.

What to Expect Directly After Jaw Surgery?

As with any surgery, an amount of pain, swelling, and general recovery is involved and whether it's for functional improvements or aesthetic reasons, the recovery process plays a crucial role in the overall success of the surgery. To help you physically and mentally prepare for surgery, it’s best to gain all the information and knowledge beforehand, and we think the below information will help.

What Happens in the Hospital?

After your surgery, you will have been under anaesthetic and likely in a hospital ward. Most people stay in the hospital anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the operation. Depending on how you feel physically will determine when you can go home but it’s worth keeping in mind that someone will likely need to be always with you during the first few days as you may feel unwell and out of sorts.

Can I Work and Take part in my Normal Activities?

We advise taking 2 to 4 weeks off work after your jaw surgery, as you will need ample time to heal and recover, however, recovery times differ for each person. Some patients will have more severe cases than others, therefore some may recover quicker than others. It’s important to avoid sports for the first 4 weeks after surgery and contact sports should be avoided for at least 6 to 8 weeks after.

Can I Eat Straight After Surgery?

In most cases, you can still open and close your mouth straight after surgery, however, there will be more restrictions due to the soreness of the operation itself and due to swelling and elastic bands holding your jaw in its new position. We encourage you to eat and drink from the very day after your surgery, although start with soft, mushy foods that won't cause any friction against your jaw, and then reintroduce a more normal diet over the next few weeks when the pain and swelling subsides.

How Do I Manage Pain and Swelling?

After surgery, you will likely feel some discomfort rather than actual pain, mainly from the numbness and swelling in your lips, face, and mouth, after all, your jaw has been reset from a position it’s held for a very long time. 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.

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Understanding how to best look after yourself after your surgery is invaluable and will aid in a faster recovery time but also the success of your surgery overall. 

Managing Pain.

As mentioned above, discomfort will be more present than actual pain but your surgeon will provide instructions on the dosage and frequency of the pain medication provided on prescription. While swelling and bruising will be present and may seem alarming, it is very normal after surgery and will usually start to disappear after the first 3 to 4 days. 

Modifying your Diet.

Stick to a liquid or soft diet directly after surgery to avoid any intense friction on your jaw and braces and then gradually transition to more solid foods as advised by your surgeon. 

After Care.

Apply ice packs regularly in the first few days to help with swelling and bruising but follow your surgeon's advice on the frequency of use and duration. It’s also advisable to keep your head elevated as often as possible, even when sleeping to help reduce swelling and minimise any movement that could cause strain on your jaw. Follow your surgeon's guidelines on talking, chewing, and other jaw movements. 

Maintaining Oral Hygiene.

Proper oral care is crucial during the recovery period to prevent infection and promote healing. Invest in a prescribed mouthwash or use a gentle salt-water rinse to keep germs away and in the first few days, when brushing, try and steer clear of any incisions to avoid opening wounds.

Follow Up Appointments.

Regular check-ups with your surgeon are vital to monitor your progress and address any concerns. If you have stitches, their removal will be scheduled during follow-up visits and imaging may be performed after surgery to assess the healing of bones and the overall success of the surgery.

Longer Term Healing

As the initial postoperative phase passes, you'll notice improvements in your condition. However, complete healing and adjustment may take several months. Your surgeon may recommend exercises to improve jaw mobility, and it’s advisable to follow these diligently to aid in the healing process. Gradually reintroduce a normal diet under your surgeon's guidance but pay attention to any discomfort and communicate with your healthcare team. Orthognathic surgery can have a profound impact on your self-esteem and confidence. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family and look out for any changes in mood, ensuring that you address them straight away. Consider joining support groups or forums where individuals share similar experiences and importantly, understand that visible results take time. Instead of focusing on the immediate aesthetic of your surgery, instead reflect on the positive changes and improvements in your overall well-being.

Orthognathic Surgery in Oldham: Oldham Orthodontics are Here to Help

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.