Jaw Surgery and How it Can Help: Everything You Need to Know

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If your jaw is out of alignment and negatively affecting your health, jaw surgery may be necessary. Following an injury, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon might recommend orthognathic surgery to correct trauma-induced misalignment or repair the jawbone. Learn everything you need to know about jaw surgery, who needs it, and how it helps correct problems and misalignment in the jaw.

Jaw Surgery: What is it, who needs it, and how does it help?

Jaw surgery can correct alignment, functionality issues, and other irregularities in a patient’s jaw. It is a standard method of fixing jaw problems stemming from skeletal abnormalities, dental damage, or tooth misalignment. Jaw surgeries can correct the cause of breathing, speaking, and chewing problems that patients may otherwise live with their entire lives.

Many patients worry that jaw surgery might leave unsightly scars or degrade their appearance. On the contrary, correcting a patient’s jaw often improves their overall facial appearance and symmetry. Contact us today to schedule your jaw surgery consultation at Flushing Oral Surgery and determine if a corrective jaw procedure is right for you.   

What necessitates corrective jaw surgery?

Jaw surgery may be recommended for patients who have experienced or exhibit:

  • Injury to the face
  • Chronic breathing from the mouth
  • Persistent jaw pain and headaches
  • Trouble swallowing, chewing, or breathing
  • Protruding jaw
  • Straining to make the lips touch
  • Physical congenital disabilities
  • Recessed jaw
  • Receding chin
  • Open bite
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Asymmetrical side-view facial appearance
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

What does jaw surgery fix?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon often collaborates with a patient’s orthodontist in preparation for jaw surgery. They work together to determine the diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Some of the most common issues that jaw surgery addresses include:

  • Correcting facial symmetry
  • Adjusting teeth to align when biting
  • Decreasing pain caused by TMJ disorder
  • Repairing cleft palates and other congenital problems affecting the maxillofacial structure
  • Restoring natural oral function (speaking, biting, chewing, swallowing)
  • Resolving breathing issues causing obstructive sleep apnea

Types of Jaw Surgery

The type of jaw surgery you undergo depends on the details of your case. There are five common types of jaw surgery:

Maxillary Osteotomy

A maxillary osteotomy is a surgery on your upper jaw to reduce or correct –

  • Open bite: When your mouth is closed, your molars don’t touch.
  • Crossbite: When your mouth is closed, some of your bottom teeth sit in front of your upper teeth.
  • Midfacial hyperplasia: This is a condition in which your upper jaw, eye sockets, and cheekbones do not develop as much as the rest of your facial structure.

During this procedure, your surgeon makes an incision above your upper teeth allowing access to the upper jawbones. The surgeon realigns your upper jawbone to fit over the bottom teeth before securing the jaw in the new position with plates and screws. Finally, your surgeon closes the incision in your gums using oral stitches. 

Mandibular Osteotomy

A mandibular osteotomy is surgery on your lower jaw. The procedure can correct the alignment of a jaw that excessively recedes or protrudes. Like a maxillary osteotomy, mandibular osteotomy procedures involve cutting the bone connecting your upper and lower jawbones.

Once the lower jawbone can move freely back and forth, your surgeon realigns it to fit with the upper jawbone. The correction to the jawbone is secured in its new position using screws and plates. Finally, your surgeon closes the incision with stitches.

Bimaxillary Osteotomy

A bimaxillary osteotomy is surgery on both the upper and lower jaw. It combines elements of the maxillary and mandibular osteotomy. Since it involves complex surgical techniques, your surgeon may use 3-D imaging technology to help guide the procedure.

Genioplasty

Genioplasty is chin surgery to fix a receding chin, and it sometimes coincides with a mandibular osteotomy procedure on the lower jaw. Your surgeon disconnects the chin bone from the rest of the jaw to move it forward into its new position. Then, they secure your chin bone into place with plates and screws.

TMJ Surgery

TMJ surgery might be recommended if other procedures have been unsuccessful at relieving TMJ symptoms. The different types of TMJ surgery include:

  • Arthrocentesis: Minimally invasive surgery to clean and lubricate the joints.
  • Arthroscopy: A thin tube, called a cannula, is inserted into the joint to enable surgery.
  • Open Joint Surgery (Arthrotomy): Procedure to remove and replace the affected components of your TMJ.

Understanding the Risks of Surgery

Every surgical procedure carries a certain level of inherent risk. When it comes to jaw surgery, the risks are the same as any minor surgery, including the possibility of infection, nerve damage, and injury to the local area. The success rate for jaw surgery patients is exceptionally high, and minimal risk exists.

Find Out if Jaw Surgery Can Help You

Your oral surgeon and you determine if jaw surgery is the best treatment option and which procedure will be most successful. Surgery is always a big decision, and patients are encouraged to consult with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. If you think jaw surgery might help you live a healthier life, contact our office to schedule your initial jaw surgery consultation with Dr. Li.

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