Corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is often used when orthodontics alone cannot correct a significant bite problem.
Corrective jaw surgery is a more commonplace name for orthognathic surgery or reconstructive jaw surgery. In these cases, the orthodontist moves teeth into the best position possible, but when the underlining problem is not the teeth but the position of the bones, then surgery may be indicated.
In these cases, there is an underlying skeletal problem. For example, I had a patient who was 19-years-old when he was referred to me by his orthodontist for reconstructive jaw surgery. There was a discrepancy in the growth of the upper and lower jaws so that his teeth did not come together in a functional bite. Due to this problem, orthodontics alone could not correct his bite.
In this case, the patient’s upper and lower teeth did not come together properly, and he was unable to chew or eat his food. He also had difficulty swallowing his food. After the orthodontist had done preliminary orthodontic treatment with braces, the patient was taken to the operating room, and during multiple procedures, the upper and lower jaws were aligned into their proper position.
He did not have his jaws wired together after surgery, he was able to open and close immediately after surgery, and he spent only one night in the hospital and was discharged the next day. All these procedures are completed through minimal incision surgery. After the surgery, he required approximately six additional months of finishing orthodontics, and now he has a functional bite along with a proportional facial profile.
Some common conditions that indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery include:
- Facial injury
- Birth defects
- Difficulty chewing food
- Difficulty swallowing
- Protruding jaw
- Inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Unbalanced facial appearance from the front, or side
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
- Excessive wear of the teeth
If you have been suffering from an underlying skeletal issue and are not considered a good candidate for traditional orthodontics alone, please feel free to call us to set up an initial consultation.
Dr. Leonard Spector