Oral surgery to correct problems with the jaw is known as orthognathic surgery. Jaw issues can result from birth defects, changes due to growth, or injury or trauma to the face. While orthodontics can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved, oral surgery may be required when repositioning of the jaw is necessary to correct the issue. If you suffer from any of the following concerns, orthognathic surgery may be a consideration:
- Difficulty chewing, biting or swallowing
- Problems with opening and closing your mouth, or with speaking
- Persistent jaw or temporomandibular joint pain
- Clenching or grinding of teeth causing excessive wear to the teeth
- Inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Un-proportional facial appearance or protruding jaw
- Malocclusion, open, or incorrect bite
- Recessive lower jaw and chin
- Habitual mouth breathing
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Facial injury or trauma
Most jaw surgeries are performed completely in the mouth, so no facial scars are visible. The oral surgeon makes cuts in the jawbone and then moves them to the correct position. Once the jaw is correctly aligned, screws and bone plates are placed to secure the jaw into the new position. Sometimes it may be necessary to add extra bone to the jaw from your hip, leg, or rib.
Orthognathic surgery is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon usually in a hospital setting. Recovery time from jaw surgery takes three to six weeks. Your general or family dentist should be able to refer you to a skilled oral surgeon for a consultation and examination to determine a treatment plan. Jaw surgery can improve not only your facial appearance, but also chewing, speaking and breathing functions.
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