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The effectiveness of orthodontics has its own limitations. For some medical issues, only the help of oral surgeons can enhance the patient’s oral health. Such is the case of jaw misalignment – when orthodontics do not suffice, surgery must come to the rescue.

Suppose you have noticed any difficulties when biting or chewing or an uneven bite; your jaws might be the ones to blame. Such symptoms could point towards jaw misalignment; that is when a visit to your orthodontist becomes the natural next step. Once they assess your oral health, your orthodontist could recommend surgical treatment to alleviate the jaw alignment thoroughly. Such a procedure bears the name of the jaw or orthognathic surgery.

Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we believe it is time for you to discover every single detail about orthognathic surgery and the procedure’s tremendous benefits, from jaw alignment and an improved lower face appearance to more confidence and self-esteem. So let us take a few minutes together and learn more about orthognathic surgery!

What Is Orthognathic Surgery?

Hailing from the Greek words orthos, “straight” and gnathos, “lower jaw,” orthognathic surgery corrects dento-cranio-maxillo-facial deformities by realigning the maxillary and mandibular bones. The procedure rebalances the relationship between the patient’s jaws and facial features, thus improving the overall facial appearance. The jaws are lengthened or shortened, moved either up or down, in or out, searching for a harmonious bite and facial appearance.

Orthognathic surgery has a higher level of complexity; thus, it calls for an extended team of specialists. Therefore, your orthodontist will coordinate with an oral surgeon and, occasionally, other dental specialists, such as endodontists and periodontists.

Reasons to Undergo Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic surgery can serve patients in numerous ways, such as:

  • Improved biting and chewing
  • Correcting swallowing and speech problems
  • Correcting open bite issues (i.e., when the front teeth do not touch)
  • Correcting facial asymmetry issues, such as underbites, overbites, crossbites, and small chins
  • Fixing lip incompetence (the inability to hold the lips together easily)
  • Alleviating temporomandibular joint TMJ) disorder pain
  • Ameliorating obstructive sleep apnea
  • Repairing birth defects or injuries

How to Prepare for Orthognathic Surgery

As pointed out earlier, orthognathic is a long-term effort that calls an entire team of specialists for completion. As a result, your treatment plan will commence 12 to 18 months before the actual surgery, when your orthodontist will place braces on your teeth. 

Orthodontic treatment is necessary for adequate teeth alignment before surgery. However, the time you spend wearing braces can be decreased with computer-guided treatment planning, three-dimensional CT scanning, and temporary anchoring devices.

The medical team will take X-rays, models, and pictures of your teeth prior to your surgery. To ensure proper teeth alignment after surgery, your orthodontist might either have to reshape your teeth, cover them with crowns, or both.

What Does Orthognathic Surgery Involve?

Orthognathic surgery requires a concerted effort from a team of oral and maxillofacial specialists. First, the patient receives a general anesthetic. Then, the surgeon makes incisions in the jawbones and repositions them accordingly. Once this step is over, the surgeon employs tiny bone plates and fixes them with screws, wires, and rubber bands. Over time, the screws become integrated into the bone structure.

Concerning the aesthetic perspective, surgeons perform orthognathic surgery inside the patient’s mouth, without incisions on the chin or around the mouth. Therefore, the risk of facial scars is eliminated.

For some patients, the jaw requires additional bone tissue for adequate correction. The surgeon can transfer bone tissue from other body parts and secure it with plates and screws. When possible, the jawbone is reshaped for a better fit.

Types of Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic surgery primarily targets three areas: the upper jaw, the lower jaw, and the chin; therefore, we divide orthognathic surgery into three types: 

  • #1: Maxillary osteotomy (upper jaw) – the surgeon performs incisions above the teeth to allow the entire top jaw to move as a singular unit. Then, the jaw and upper teeth are repositioned to fit adequately with the lower teeth. The surgeon applies plates and screws to secure the jawbone in its new position. Perfect for upper jaw misalignment and bite issues.
  • #2: Mandibular osteotomy (lower jaw) – the surgeon performs incisions behind the molars and down the jawbone, then repositions and fixes the latter with plates and screws. Ideal for receding or protruding lower jaw.
  • #3: Genioplasty (chin surgery) – often performed after a mandibular osteotomy to correct a deficient chin. The surgeon makes an incision into the chin bone, moves it into its new position, and secures the new position with plates and screws. The incision is closed with stitches.

Postprocedural Instructions

Orthognathic surgery calls for a specific recovery time and postprocedural instructions. The patient will spend two to four days in the hospital after surgery. Then, anywhere between six to twelve weeks are necessary for complete healing. Your surgeon will advise you to refrain from strenuous activity and pay closer attention to oral hygiene during your convalescence. Requirements such as avoiding alcohol,  tobacco, and certain foods will also be part of your postprocedural instructions.

Schedule your COMPLIMENTARY Consultation!

To sum it up, orthognathic surgery can be a splendid choice for your oral health. Not only will your teeth and jaws function better but also your appearance, confidence, and self-esteem will go through the roof. Are you ready to discuss more on orthognathic surgery with an orthodontist? Do not hesitate to schedule a complimentary consultation at Loudoun Orthodontics! In the meantime, make sure to check out our blog for more information on orthodontic treatments.