Corrective jaw surgery – also known as orthognathic surgery – is the art and science of moving the bones of the jaw to create healthier alignment and functioning and, often, an entirely new look for the patient.
There are a number of reasons your dentist or orthodontist may recommend this surgery:
- To correct how your teeth meet, especially if braces cannot fix the problem.
- To improve the way you speak or chew.
- To correct a condition that makes it hard for you to breathe efficiently hence it can also lead to problems such as sleep apnea.
- To improve how your jaw works, especially if you are experiencing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.
- To give your face a more pleasing, balanced look.
Corrective jaw surgery can be a very involved procedure, but the rewards can be life-changing for patients.
UNDERSTANDING THE NEED FOR SURGERY
Because corrective jaw surgery is a complex procedure, you will usually work with a team of dental professionals. Your team may include an orthodontist, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and possibly your general dentist. Sometimes, other dental specialists such as periodontists and endodontists are involved too.
If your dentist or orthodontist has suggested this surgery, it is probably because your jaws or teeth do not meet correctly. This condition can be present from an early age or result from trauma to the face after an accident or injury.
Jaw growth happens gradually when we’re young and in some cases, the upper and lower jaws do not match when growth stops. In other cases, an injury to the jaw during your younger years might have caused uneven growth. Whatever the original cause, you may have been struggling with problems ever since.
Your orthodontist can correct an improper bite if your teeth alone are the cause. But trying to remedy mismatched jaws by moving only the teeth can lead to periodontal (gum) problems and other issues, including joint problems. If the problems you are experiencing are mainly caused by the alignment of your jawbones, then orthognathic surgery is likely the best solution.
GETTING READY FOR SURGERY: WHAT TO EXPECT
Before treatment begins, you will meet with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for evaluation. A full exam will be conducted and images will be taken to help determine how your jaw is functioning now.
Using facial x-rays and other advanced tools, your oral surgeon will show you how your bite will be improved by the surgery. You may even be given a computer image that simulates how you may look after surgery is complete. This helps you understand the surgical process and the extent of the treatment prescribed.
If you are a good candidate for surgery, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist to plan each step. The surgery will move your teeth and jaws into a new position that not only improves how you chew, breathe and speak, but can give you an entirely new appearance.
Typically, the orthodontist will install appliances to align the teeth independently in each jawbone before surgery takes place. After surgery, a different set of appliances will finish aligning your teeth so they meet properly.
In the past, many patients who had corrective jaw surgery had to have their jaws wired together to hold the bones in place while they healed. Now we can use small titanium plates and screws to secure bones – which means when you wake up from surgery, you can move your mouth normally.
DR. FAROLE CAN ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT CORRECTIVE JAW SURGERY
As an oral and maxillofacial surgeon serving thousands of patients in Bala Cynwyd and Greater Philadelphia, Dr. Anthony Farole is ready to consult with you. He has seen the positive transformation that so many people have experienced after corrective jaw surgery. If you’re ready to learn more about orthognathic surgery, call Dr. Farole today for a convenient time to meet.
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