What Is Orthognathic Surgery?

orthognathic surgeryYour jaws may be misaligned due to a birth defect or trauma. Sometimes one of your jaws just grows faster than the other. Through the process of orthognathic surgery (also referred to as corrective jaw surgery), a skilled specialist can bring your jaws into better alignment. While performed primarily for therapeutic purposes, the process can also help improve your appearance through orthognathic jaw surgery by correcting facial asymmetry.

Who Needs Orthognathic Jaw Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is usually not the first treatment recommended to treat misalignment. You may have already undergone a course of orthodontic treatment attempting to correct it. This tends to be more successful when the misalignment affects the teeth alone. If the problem persists despite more conservative measures, you may have to come to us for orthognathic surgery.

Orthodontic treatment usually starts when you are young and your bones are still growing. Repositioning the jaws is easier when they are not yet in a fixed position. By contrast, we find that orthognathic surgery is only appropriate after your bones have stopped growing in the late teens and early 20s.

Corrective Jaw Surgery Risks

Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Michigan have all undergone up to six additional years of training in anesthesia and hospital-based surgical techniques following graduation from accredited dental schools. Because of our expertise, the risks to you from this type of jaw surgery are minimal.

Nevertheless, there are risks involved with every surgical procedure, including orthognathic jaw surgery:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Need for further surgery

You may have temporary tingling or numbness of the mouth or face following surgery. This should subside as the swelling goes down. However, if there is damage to the nerves themselves during surgery, the change in sensation could be permanent.

Prior to your procedure, we will explain all the risks and benefits of surgery to you. Most patients decide that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Orthognathic Surgery Before and After

Prior to orthognathic surgery, you may have one jaw that protrudes forward or recedes backward, causing an overbite or underbite depending on whether the upper or lower jaw is affected. Your front teeth may not come together properly, resulting in an open bite. Problems such as these can make it more difficult for you to chew your food and cause problems with speech. Misalignment of the jaws can put pressure on the temporomandibular joint, causing pain and dysfunction.

Complete jaw healing following orthognathic surgery takes up to three months. However, the time required to recover from surgery is shorter at approximately six weeks. We recommend that you arrange to take at least two weeks off from school or work following surgery to allow the most disruptive symptoms to subside completely before resuming your normal activities.

Expected postoperative symptoms following orthognathic surgery include bleeding, nausea, and swelling. Nausea and bleeding need only a few hours to subside. Swelling takes up to two to three weeks to subside completely but reaches its peak at approximately the third postoperative day.

We will provide you with detailed instructions for postoperative hygiene, diet, and activity modifications. Our recommendations may include:

  • Warm salt water rinses two to three times daily
  • Liquid diet for the first week
  • No strenuous activity or tobacco use for at least two weeks

Your recovery and surgical outcome depend on closely following postoperative instructions.

Corrective Jaw Surgery in Michigan

Corrective jaw surgery is just one of several oral and maxillofacial services that we provide in our many locations in Macomb and Oakland Counties. If you have been wondering, “is orthognathic surgery near me available?” contact us at one of our locations in Troy, Rochester Hills, Sterling Heights, Grosse Pointe, Clinton Township or Detroit.