Jaw surgery to correct abnormalities can be performed on either the upper or lower jaw, or both at the same time. When the procedure involves both jaws at once, it is called bimaxillary osteotomy, or double jaw surgery. It is used to correct severe deformities of jaws due to birth defects, facial trauma, or uneven jaw development, which may occur due to a condition such as acromegaly that develops later in life.
Double jaw surgery is one of a variety of surgical procedures involving the jaws that we offer at Summit OMS. Find out what the surgery entails and whether you might be a good candidate.
What Does Double Jaw Surgery Do?
The term “bimaxillary osteotomy” literally means cutting into the bone of both jaws. The surgical procedure can vary depending on the exact deformities present. The goal may be simply to move the jaws into a more beneficial position. If either of the jaws is overgrown, the procedure may involve removing portions of bone to shorten it. On the other hand, if either jaw is underdeveloped, you may require an implant procedure during the surgery to enlarge it.
What Are the Benefits of Double Jaw Surgery?
Deformities of the jaw can cause facial asymmetry, which bimaxillary osteotomy can correct. In addition, the procedure is used to treat:
- Facial pain due to temporomandibular joint disorder
- Muscle tension due to an inability to close the lips over the teeth
- Functional problems with speaking, breathing, and eating due to malalignment
- Sporadic breathing cessation due to sleep apnea.
Who Is a Candidate for Bimaxillary Osteotomy?
Double jaw surgery is not recommended as the first line of treatment for most conditions. We typically do not consider you to be a candidate for bimaxillary osteotomy unless your condition is severe and you have undergone a course of nonsurgical treatment without improvement.
To be a candidate for the surgery, you must already have reached skeletal maturity. This occurs when your bones stop growing any larger, typically between the ages of 14 and 18. If you use tobacco or cannabis, you must stop before we can perform the procedure. Otherwise, smoking can complicate your recovery.
What Happens During the Double Jaw Surgery Procedure?
Before you can have a bimaxillary osteotomy, our surgeon must plan the procedure. This involves photographs and X-rays to assess the position of the teeth and jaw. The surgery takes place under general anesthesia, which renders you completely unconscious so that you feel no pain.
Occasionally, it may be necessary to make small cuts on your cheeks during a double jaw surgery. However, most of the incisions take place inside your mouth, preventing you from having visible scars.
During the planning process, we will decide whether to work on the lower or upper jawbone first. It depends on what we need to do to correct the issues you are having.
Once the repositioning, reduction, or enlargement of each jaw has taken place, we need to hold the jaws in place so that they will not return to their previous position while healing. We do this with the surgical implantation of titanium plates and screws. We also use wires or elastic bands in your mouth to keep the jaws in the desired position.
What Are the Risks of Bimaxillary Osteotomy?
In addition to the general risks of surgery, such as infection or reaction to anesthesia, you may experience hearing changes due to swelling or lip numbness due to nerve compression. These are generally temporary. Additional risks include severe bleeding, TMJ dysfunction, and the need for a second surgery due to a fracture of the jaw or relapse to its previous position.
We will discuss the risks of double jaw surgery with you and help you decide whether it is a reasonable treatment option.