The jaw is a pair of bones that create the framework behind the mouth of animals and humans, which usually comprises of the teeth, a movable lower jaw (known as the mandible) and a fixed upper jaw (known as the maxilla). The jaw functions by moving in opposite directions in order to help organisms bite, chew and handle food. Sometimes, however, the jaw may come across irregularities that can only be fixated through surgical interventions.
What Is the Purpose of Surgery?
Jaw surgery, known as orthognathic surgery, corrects some of these irregularities so that the bones of the jaw and the teeth will improve the way they will work. Corrections can also have a cosmetic effect by improving one’s facial appearance.
In terms of what it is used for, there are a variety of reasons. Primarily, surgery will make biting and chewing an easier experience. For those who may have trouble speaking or swallowing, surgery can help with these issues as well. Other reasons that one may want to consider surgery are to repair congenital defects, provide relief for sleep apnea, improve the ability for the lips to close and to correct facial asymmetry. As you can see, the reasons range from improving activities of daily living to the cosmetic effects.
What Are The Different Kinds of Procedures?
There are a few different kinds of surgery because it depends on which part of the jaw requires correction.
If you are fixing the upper jaw, then you will be getting a maxillary osteotomy. This kind of surgery corrects an upper jaw that recedes, cross bites or if there are too many teeth showing. It can also help an open bite.
If you need to correct the lower jaw, you will be getting a mandibular osteotomy. This will fix a receded lower jaw, and the surgeon will move the jawbone backward or forwards, depending on what the best bite alignment or adjustment is determined to be.
Surgery of the chin is known as a genioplasty. This typically accompanies a receded lower jaw. In this kind of surgery, surgeons are capable of altering the jaw and restructure the chin during surgery.
Once the jaw is aligned to the surgeon’s liking, plates and screws will hold the bone into proper position. In medical terms, they are osseo integrated and are formulated in a way where it is compatible with your body. Over time, they will gradually integrate with your bone and will not have to be taken out. If there is an insufficient amount of bone material in your jaw, surgeons can add that as well by grafting reserves from your hip, rib or leg.
Jaw Surgery Preparation
In order to prepare for jaw surgery, an orthodontist typically places braces on your teeth prior to surgery. Braces are typically left in the mouth for about 12-18 months prior to surgery so that your teeth can be properly aligned for surgery. The orthodontist and your surgeon will work in conjunction to develop a comprehensive treatment plan which will involve CT scans, X-rays and potential crowns that will be needed to complete the correction.
Prior to the procedure, surgery under anesthesia is done in the hospital and requires around a 2-4 day stay. During the procedure, the surgeon typically makes cuts in the jaw bones and moves them into the proper position. Once jaw movement is completed, tiny plates, screws, and wires could be used to secure the bones to secure them in a new position.
Post-procedure, your doctor will provide you instructions in terms of what activities you may need to refrain from. This treatment plan will involve what your diet should be, proper oral hygiene, tobacco and strenuous activity avoidance and medications to take in order to control pain. Complete healing from surgery can take up to 12 weeks, but relief has shown to be found in about as little as six.
Benefits of Jaw Surgery
The benefits from proper jaw alignment include balanced face appearance, health benefits in the form of improved sleep, breathing and eating, and improvement in speech. Secondary benefits may include improvement of appearance and self-esteem. The psychological benefits tend to be some that are often overlooked during surgery.
As you can see, surgery of the jaw is a comprehensive procedure with many steps involved and lifestyle changes that must be implemented afterwards. While the initial process might be frustrating to some, the positive effects have the capacity to last a lifetime. Consider surgery if you had some of the listed precipitating issues.