5 Reasons You May Need Jaw Surgery

jaw surgeryOur patients get jaw surgery, technically called orthognathic surgery, but you may have also heard it referred to as “corrective jaw surgery”, for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s to correct a medical issue, remedy specific jaw problems, or other times it’s for cosmetic purposes.

There are several serious problems orthognatic surgery can fix, many of which are more common than you may realize. If you’re having difficulty with your jaw or need to adjust your facial appearance, you may benefit from surgery like this. Here are just a few of the main ways the jaw surgery we provide improves the lives of our patients.

Benefits of Orthognathic Surgery

  1. Makes it Easier to Bite and Chew

We commonly see patients with an upper or lower jaw that significantly protrudes or recedes. This can cause a drastic overbite or underbite and make it very difficult to bite or chew. When the teeth don’t properly align, chewing can not only be problematic and uncomfortable but also can cause premature wear and tear on the teeth. While there is a wide range of degrees to which jaw problems such as this can affect people, the extreme cases can require corrective jaw surgery.

  1. Allows Full, Comfortable Lip Closure

The jaw structure of some of our patients creates a gap between their lips when their facial muscles are relaxed. In order to fully close their lips, they must tense the muscles around the mouth. This can be uncomfortable and tiring since these muscles were not designed to be used constantly. When one of our professional jaw surgeons moves their jaw with corrective jaw surgery, the gap is closed and it is possible for the patient to fully close their lips comfortably.

  1. Fixes Speech or Swallowing Problems

orthognathic surgeryOccasionally, patients come to us with a deformed or small jaw that impacts the functionality of their tongue and makes it difficult to talk and swallow. The tongue needs adequate space to move in order to properly form words and move food around the mouth. These patients need orthognathic surgery to create more space inside their mouths. This makes it easier for their tongues to form sounds and helps them swallow food without choking.

  1. Correct Facial Trauma or Defects

Injuries to the face can cause the jaw to become misaligned or broken. Some patients have jaw issues are caused by birth defects like a cleft lip or cleft palate. When these issues are left uncorrected, there can be serious problems with oral functions such as:

  • Chewing
  • Breathing
  • Swallowing
  • Speaking
  1. Remedy Facial Asymmetry

Small chins and bite irregularities can result in cases of severe facial asymmetry where one side of the face looks drastically different than the other. Fixing these problems can require employing jaw reduction surgery to reduce or augment the jaw or chin. In some cases, we see patients who need their entire jaw moved to fix their issues. The results of this type of surgery can be impressive and dramatically improve the appearance of the face.

What To Expect After The Procedure

Orthognathic surgery usually does not require a long hospital stay. You should be able to go home within a few days. It also does not usually cause a great deal of pain. However, you are likely to experience some significant swelling, especially at first. This will subside within the first week after surgery, and you can also reduce the swelling by sleeping propped upright and using cold compresses on the affected area.

Jaw Surgeons In Michigan

Let us help you achieve a healthy, attractive smile you can be proud of. Contact us for an evaluation by one of the oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Summit OMS. Appointments to assess jaw problems are available at one of our many locations across Michigan.  We have offices in Warren, Grosse Pointe, Rochester Hills, Macomb, and Romeo, Michigan.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards getting the jaw you’ve always wanted.

Other Jaw Related Problems

Mandibular Osteotomy for Prognathism or Receding Jaw

Prognathism is a condition in which one of your jaws extends too far forward. It is often genetic and present from birth, although it may also result from an acquired condition such as acromegaly. Whatever the reason for it, prognathism can cause a number of functional problems as well as affecting your appearance. While mild forms of prognathism can be corrected with orthodontics, more advanced cases may require orthognathic surgery.

While prognathism can affect either jaw, it more commonly occurs on the bottom jaw, also known as the mandible. The orthognathic surgical procedure used to correct prognathism of the lower jaw is a mandibular osteotomy.

Why Is This Surgery Performed?

Prognathism affects the way your teeth come together and the way your jaw moves. Malocclusion, or improper alignment of your teeth, can make speaking more difficult, as well as chewing, biting, and swallowing.

It is also possible for your lower jaw to recede. In other words, instead of extending forward, your mandible is positioned too far back. Though different from prognathism, a receding jaw can be corrected with the same mandibular osteotomy procedure.

What Happens During the Surgery?

Correcting prognathism or recession of the mandible involves moving it into a different position. Pre-surgical planning determines the desired position in which to move the jawbone.

However, the mandible is not mobile on its own. So that the jaw can move as one unit, the surgeon must make a controlled break of the bone. To accomplish this, the surgeon cuts into the jawbone on either side with a small saw in a slanted fashion. This makes the mandible mobile so that it can be moved into a new position.

Accessing the jaw to make the cut involves making incisions into the gums in the back of the mouth by the molar teeth. Once the mandible is in the pre-determined position, the surgeon secures it with plates and screws made of metal, typically titanium. When the bone has healed from the surgery, the jaw will hold its new position. Dissolvable stitches are usually used to close up the gums because they disappear on their own and do not need to be removed later.

What Is Involved in Recovery?

When the position of your jaw changes due to mandibular osteotomy, it also places your teeth into a new position. To hold your teeth in the proper place, the doctor will place small elastic bands in your mouth connecting the upper and lower jaws. These remain in place only temporarily, but while they are there, you will not be able to open up your mouth as fully as you are accustomed to.

Your jaw will be somewhat more delicate and vulnerable to injury until it heals fully from the procedure. You will have to take care not to put too much pressure and strain on it. Between the difficulty opening your mouth while the elastic bands are in place and the need to be gentle with your jaw, you will not be able to eat the way you usually do after surgery. Your doctor may recommend a diet of soft foods, and it may be necessary to prepare them in a special way, i.e., chopping them up in a food processor, before you can eat them.

Jaw Specialists

If you suffer from these or other jaw problems that are disfiguring or make it difficult to perform necessary functions like breathing or eating, surgery on the jaws can make an incredible difference in your quality of life. At Summit OMS, we understand the thought of surgery can be intimidating. Our experienced, professional doctors can help make you as comfortable as possible with whatever procedure you need.