Corrective Jaw Surgery
Who should undergo jaw surgery?
Some patients may require jaw surgery after birth due to a congenital birth defect. Other patients may develop a need for the procedure after their physical development has shown that their jaws are misaligned, or are growing at different rates. This typically becomes clear during or following adolescence, and it may only be used as a last resort following orthodontic correction attempts, which often can correct dental problems but not larger jaw issues. The need for corrective jaw surgery may also be caused by facial trauma or disease.
What happens during surgery?
Prior to the surgery, orthodontic adjustment will frequently be made to prepare the teeth for the position of the new jaws. Extensive presurgery documentation of the facial structure may be completed, which could include X-rays, pictures and 3D models of the facial anatomy. The surgical procedure will be explained in detail, including all aspects of the expected recovery process, which varies for each patient.
General anesthetic is applied prior to the procedure in order to ensure the best possible patient comfort during the surgery, which may take up to several hours. Incisions are made within the mouth when possible, though some situations may require small, discreet exterior incisions. As required by the procedure, the bone of the jaw may need to be separated, and pieces will be removed or added to address the problem.
Often the bone will need to be reshaped. The jaw is reattached with screws and surgical plates, and the incisions closed with dissolvable sutures. The top and bottom jaws may be held in place following surgery with wire and rubber bands.
What should I expect after surgery?
Discomfort following the jaw surgery is controllable with prescription medication. Swelling is expected to peak in 2-3 days and subside over 2-3 weeks, though mild swelling may persist for several months following the procedure. There may also be bruising, a sore throat and nasal congestion following the surgery. Patients may be able to return to school or work after about 1-3 weeks, depending on their specific recovery.
Initial healing may take about 6 weeks, but overall healing of the jaws may require 9-12 months. The complete healing following corrective jaw surgery is a complex process that may require the use of orthodontia, a retainer, multiple additional appointments and the coordination of medical professionals from a number of specialties. In some cases, revisionary surgery may be necessary to ensure the jaw is healing in the proper formation.
Some of the complications that occur infrequently may include infection, asymmetry, headaches and changes in sensitivity.
Learn more about jaw surgery in Kansas City
If you feel that you may be a candidate for jaw surgery due to the existence of the indicators listed above, please feel free to contact Brian Andrews, MD, who will be happy to address any of your questions or concerns during a personal consultation.