Jaw alignment is an important part of oral health. When the jaw is out of alignment, it can negatively affect the bite, as well as the function of the mouth. Some misaligned jaws are so problematic; they cause abnormal wear on the teeth and other secondary symptoms, such as headaches. Also known as orthognathic surgery, jaw alignment surgery is meant to address irregularities that impair the normal function of the jaws. By undergoing corrective jaw surgery, patients can improve their bite, speech, and appearance – not to mention alleviate other side effects.
Did you know?
Though only an oral surgeon can let you know if jaw surgery is right for you, there are some signs and symptoms that the procedure could be right for you:
- Your lips do not meet in your natural bite
- Your jaw protrudes noticeably forward
- Your chin is receded backward
- Your face seems unbalanced
- You have open space between your upper and lower arches when your mouth is closed
- You have breathing difficulties during sleep
- You find yourself breathing primarily through your mouth
- You have difficulty chewing and/or swallowing food
- You have excessive wear on your teeth
- You have ongoing jaw joint pain
- You suffer with chronic headaches
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a candidate for jaw or orthognathic surgery?
You may be a candidate for corrective jaw surgery if you have a malocclusion (bad bite) that is caused by poorly aligned jaws. Only a complete consultation with an oral surgeon can help you determine whether jaw surgery is right for you.
What should I expect during a jaw surgery?
You’ll be evaluated by an oral surgeon to determine if oral surgery is right for you. In some cases, a bad bite can be treated with orthodontics alone. In others, a combination of orthodontics and jaw surgery, or jaw surgery alone is used to correct alignment issues. If you require orthodontic treatment, treatment will occur prior to jaw surgery.
X-rays will be taken of your teeth in a pre-surgical consultation. On the day of your operation, you’ll be placed under general anesthesia. An incision will be made on the inside of your mouth, through which your surgeon will reposition your jaws. Some jaw surgeries involve bone shaping, which may include shaving some bone away or grafting new bone into the jaw. A combination of plates, screws or wires may be used to hold the jaw in place before your incision is closed.
Will I need to follow any special instructions following my jaw surgery?
Yes. The initial healing phase is usually a few weeks long. During this time, you’ll be placed on a modified diet and instructed to avoid certain activities. It is important to take all medications as prescribed and to keep the incision site clean and free of debris. Your jaw may be swollen and sore for several days after surgery. Be sure to contact your doctor if you experience fever or any discomfort that worsens with time. Keep in mind that your jaw will continue to heal over the course of several months – a process that can take up to one year to complete.