What to know about Jaw Surgery

jaw surgery orthodontics

What to know about Jaw Surgery

jaw surgery orthodontics5 Feb 2024 | by Dr. Eric Meyer

What is jaw surgery?

Orthognathic surgery, colloquially known as jaw surgery, is a procedure performed to correct various jaw imbalances and facial irregularities. Common examples include a severe “underbite”, small lower jaw, or very narrow upper jaw. These can result from irregular growth, development, or injuries and may cause issues with biting, chewing, breathing, or speaking. In order to correct these abnormalities, a surgeon will reposition the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both jaws to restore a normal jaw position and provide facial balance. These surgeries may also include the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) for those who experience TMJ dysfunction and pain.

What is the process for jaw surgery?

Typically this treatment requires a pre-surgical phase of orthodontics to align the patient’s teeth before the surgeon performs the operation, most often in a hospital setting under general anesthesia. After the surgery is complete, a recovery phase and short post-surgical phase of orthodontics allows our doctors to fine-tune the patients occlusion and avoid relapse of the post-surgical results. Although, it may be possible with Invisalign®️, braces are almost always the preferred treatment modality for the best possible outcome.

What are the benefits of jaw surgery?

Orthognathic surgery has various benefits depending on the type of surgery performed:

  1. Improved Functionality: Orthognathic surgery can significantly enhance the function of the jaw, allowing for better biting, chewing, and speaking.
  2. Enhanced Facial Aesthetics: The surgery can improve facial balance and harmony, enhancing the patient’s overall facial appearance.
  3. Relief from Pain: For individuals experiencing TMJ pain (temporomandibular joint pain), orthognathic surgery can provide relief depending on the type of surgery, for example, joint replacement surgery.
  4. Correction of obstructive sleep apnea: For individuals diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, orthographic surgery may be recommended to bring one or both of the jaws forward and thereby significantly opening the airway and improving breathing.
  5. Boost in Confidence: Correcting facial asymmetry or other noticeable issues can boost self-esteem and confidence.

What are the risks of jaw surgery?

Like all surgical procedures, orthognathic surgery does not come without risks which may include infection, altered nerve sensation, swelling or bruising, relapse, and limited jaw movement during healing. It is important to discuss the risks of jaw surgery with the operating surgeon beforehand.

What is the cost of jaw surgery?

As you can imagine this surgery may be quite expensive without a medical insurance that covers the procedure. It is dependent on the type of surgery performed and any hospital stay involved, although a hospital stay may not be needed for some procedures. To avoid any financial surprises, verify with your insurance the coverage and any out-of-pocket expenses before proceeding with treatment.

It’s important to note that the decision to undergo orthognathic surgery is typically made after careful evaluation by an orthodontist and oral/maxillofacial surgeon, in coordination with your general dentist. They assess the individual’s specific condition, overall health, and potential risks to determine if the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks. Patients should discuss any concerns or questions with this team before making a decision.