Orthognathic surgery is performed to correct problems with malocclusion and the jaw. Also known as corrective jaw surgery, orthognathic surgery corrects a wide range of facial and dental irregularities, including the misalignment of jaws and teeth, which helps to improve chewing, speaking and even breathing. Orthognathic surgery is commonly performed to correct functional problems, although it may also be performed for aesthetic reasons.
Candidates for Orthognathic Surgery
Candidates for orthognathic surgery are those with an irregular bite resulting from misaligned teeth or jaws. Injuries and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. Experiencing or having the following may indicate a need orthognathic surgery:
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or biting
- Chronic jaw pain (TMD)
- Protruding jaw
- Deficient or receding chin
- Dry mouth
- Abnormal facial appearance
- Sleep apnea
Orthognathic Surgery Procedure
Orthognathic surgery restructures the jaw by cutting through and repositioning bones. The surgeon repositions the jawbones depending on the patient's specific needs. In some cases, bone may be added, removed or reshaped. Surgical plates, screws and wires may be used to hold the jaw in the new position. In most cases, teeth are straightened with orthodontics after corrective jaw surgery. Orthognathic surgery allows for the repositioning of teeth and facial bones to create a jaw that works and functions properly, and has a more balanced appearance. Recovery from this surgery may take several weeks, although complete healing may take up to one year.
Complications of Orthognathic Surgery
A common side effect of orthognathic surgery is numbness of the upper and lower lips, which subsides with time. Other complications may include:
- Muscle spasms
Benefits of Orthognathic Surgery
Orthognathic surgery effectively places the teeth and jaws into positions that are symmetrical, functional and healthy. Although this surgery is commonly performed to improve jaw function and bite, it may also be used to improve a patient's appearance or speech.