Jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, refers to the surgical correction needed to fix substantial abnormalities of the maxilla (upper jaw), the mandible (lower jaw), or both. The abnormality may be a birth defect, a growth defect, or the result of traumatic injuries to the jaw area.
At Sandstone Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, this procedure is done to correct malocclusion (bad bite) in cases where routine orthodontic treatment has not or will not be effective. Orthognathic surgeries also include the reconstruction of the mandible, maxilla or both.
There are several classifications of malocclusion (the improper coming together of teeth) which may require orthognathic surgery:
Class I Occlusion –This malocclusion means that the lower anterior incisors sit directly behind the upper anterior incisors when the patient bites down.
Class II Malocclusion – This is identified when the lower anterior incisors lie significantly behind the upper anterior incisors during the biting process; in some cases hitting the soft tissue behind the upper incisors. This is commonly referred to as an overbite and can cause discomfort, bone damage, excessive wear of the front teeth, and tooth loss.
Class III Malocclusion – This is commonly known as an underbite and occurs when the lower anterior incisors and lower jaw are positioned beyond the upper teeth, making the lower jaw much more prominent than the upper jaw.
What will the orthognathic surgery be like?
When the dentist identifies a patient as a candidate for orthognathic surgery, a complete photographic analysis is initially undertaken. This includes panorex x-rays, cephalometric x-rays, models, impressions, and radiographs. Our team at Sandstone will work together with your other providers to consider how the corrective surgery will impact both proper jaw function and the aesthetic appearance of the entire face.
Generally, orthodontic braces are necessary to align the arches and straighten the teeth prior to the surgery, and additionally, retainers may be used after the surgery. During maxillary surgery, the upper jaw is moved and may be secured in position using tiny plates, wires, rubber bands and screws. Surgery on the mandible is performed using bone grafts to align the lower jaw into the correct position. Orthognathic surgery generally requires significant amount of aftercare. Pain medication will be prescribed as necessary, and you’ll be given post treatment advice for your recovery. You may also be provided with a modified diet.