A relatively specialized branch of dentistry is jaw surgery or Orthognathic surgery, aimed at correcting improper positioning and alignment of the jaws, which in turn affects the position of the teeth. The main aim is to facilitate and improve the functioning of the oral structures, which have a direct impact on the lifestyle of the patient. Often, orthognathic surgeries are done as a last resort for facial aesthetic correction when more conservative methods like orthodontic treatments, face fillers ,etc fail or just aren’t enough.
Jaw surgeries are undertaken by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon whose specialization lies in surgical procedures of the head and neck region. This is usually done in adjunct with either an orthodontist, a prosthodontist or a plastic surgeon. These surgeries are done ONLY after the patient stops growing that is approximately 18 to 21 years.
To put technicalities aside, the whole point of jaw surgeries can be summarized in the following points:
Improved function of your teeth.
Improved balance in your face.
Better chewing, sleeping, breathing and swallowing.
Improvement in speech.
In Addition , successful jaw surgeries result in a spike in patient’s confidence because of an improved appearance!
WHY ARE JAW SURGERIES DONE
Apart from an improvement in appearance, which happens to be most popular reason for any kind of facial procedures today, jaw surgeries are essentially done to improve the functionality of our teeth and oral musculature.
Correction of facial imbalances like a larger or smaller upper or lower jaw, a smaller chin, and more.
Correction of dental imbalances that cannot be corrected only with clips and braces.
Relieve joint pains of the jaw that have been refractive to any other kind of treatment.
Repair of injuries to the face and birth defects like cleft palate and cleft lip.
Correct problems of chewing, swallowing and relief for obstructive sleep apnea.
Closure of lip at rest.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH JAW SURGERIES
As with any surgical procedure, there is some level of risk associated with jaw surgeries too. The ones common with general orthopaedic surgeries are blood loss, risk of infection, nerve damage, fracture and need for further surgeries.
Specifically to the jaws, there might be relapse to the original position, problems in achieving a proper bite, joint pain and restriction in mouth opening and need for Root canal treatment of teeth in the line of surgery.
Post surgery, one must expect some amount of pain as well as swelling. The swelling reduces over a period of weeks and months as the healing progresses. During this time, one will face difficulty in eating and therefore a dietician consult is recommended to ensure that all nutritional requirements are met, as it is crucial for speedy recovery.
WHAT TO EXPECT BEFORE AND AT THE SURGERY
Usually orthognathic surgeries are done in adjunct with orthodontic procedures. One usually undergoes 12-18 months of orthodontic treatment to achieve a balance in bite. Then ,your orthodontist and oral surgeon sketch out a plan based on a number of tools like models, CT scans, pictures and more.
Done under general anaesthesia, small cuts are made in the jaw to guide them in the correct position using bone plates, screws, wires and rubber bands. In some cases, extra bone has to be added from the hip, leg or rib. Over a period of time, these brackets heal and are embedded in the bone.
There are a range of jaw surgeries, depending on the problem. Thorough analysis is absolutely mandatory when jaw surgeries are considered.