Jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a procedure that is often performed on patients who do not have jaws that meet correctly. When the jaws do not meet correctly or the teeth do not fit with the jaws, they can be straightened with orthognathic surgery. The jaw can be repositioned when it is not aligned properly. This can improve the function of the teeth and jaw, as well as correct the facial appearance and any irregularities.
How Do I know If I Need Jaw Surgery?
Individuals who have an improper bite may be candidates for orthognathic surgery. Those who have jaws that are not positioned in the correct way can also benefit from this procedure. As an individual ages, the jaws begin to form and position themselves. The rate that this occurs varies as to the individual, and the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. This growth difference can produce problems in terms of function, including speech and chewing problems. The jaw may also produce facial irregularities which can affect an individual’s appearance. Birth defects can influence the alignment of the jaw which also may require corrective surgery.
What conditions can influence the need for jaw surgery?
- Birth defects
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain
- Involuntary mouth breathing
- Inability of the lips to come together without straining
- Trauma or injury to the jaw or face
- Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
- Protruding jaw
- Receding lower jaw and chin
- Tumor or pathology affecting the jaw
Jaw surgery is usually performed inside of the mouth. This eliminates scarring on the exterior areas of the face including the jaw, chin, and around the mouth area. Orthognathic surgery will involve cuts being made in the jawbone. This allows the surgeon to position the jaw in the correct place to eliminate problems the patient is currently experiencing. Repositioning and properly aligning the jaw will involve the use of screws and plates securing the jaw in the new position. In some cases, new bone may need to be added to the jaw. The bone and new jaw position will be secured temporarily with wires.
Jaw surgery is usually not a procedure that is completed on children. Usually the surgery is only appropriate after an individual has stopped growing and the jaw and skeletal features are fully grown. There may be other circumstances involving children who have birth conditions or severe orthodontic problems where surgery is needed at an earlier age. Typically this procedure is only performed on individuals who are fully grown, whether they are teenagers or adults. The typical age that females stop growing is 15, and males typically stop growing at the age of 18.
A consultation with an orthodontist prior to surgery will typically result in the patient wearing braces before it can be completed. The braces may need to be worn as long as nine to 18 months. This can assist in straightening the teeth prior to and after the surgery is completed. It is important that that the patient’s bite is aligned and looks good when the jaw is being repositioned.
Upper and Lower Jaw Surgery
When upper jaw surgery is performed, the surgeon will make cuts into the upper jaw and then move it forward. When lower jaw surgery is performed the surgeon will move the front section of the jaw forward. There are also cases where the jaws need to be moved backwards. The chin may also need to be aligned to stay in position with the facial profile to prevent facial irregularities.
What About the Cost?
The cost of jaw surgery can vary depending on what the patient needs done. The surgery fee will be the main expense. There are also orthodontic, hospital, and anesthesia fees. Your insurance may cover the cost. After surgery, the patient will need medications for pain and other possible side effects. The cost can vary depending on numerous situations and conditions that are specific to the patient.
Jaw surgery involves the patient being placed under anesthesia and can involve an overnight stay in a hospital facility. It will take eight weeks for the bone to become hard and heal to the point of being fully functional. Restrictions on physical activity are a possibility. This can involve not being able to play certain sports where the face could be injured.
What side effects or risks could I experience?
- Failure of the bone to heal in the correct position
- Further growth
- Bone healing with scar tissue and not calcifying
To learn more about jaw surgery, contact Dr. Majid Jamali, a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in New York, at (212) 480-2777 to schedule an appointment today.