Corrective Jaw Surgery: Understanding the Issues, Procedure, and Benefits

Corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a treatment option to correct a wide range of skeletal and dental irregularities in the face and jaw. Dr. Jarom E. Maurer, DMD, at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Centery possesses extensive expertise in this life-changing procedure, ensuring optimal outcomes for patients seeking to resolve jaw-related issues. In this blog post, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of corrective jaw surgery, examining the types of conditions it addresses, the surgical process, and the substantial benefits it can bring.

Orthognathic surgery can address a variety of issues, from cosmetic concerns to functional problems, improving not only the patient’s appearance but also their ability to chew, speak, and even breathe. Conditions requiring corrective jaw surgery may be congenital or result from injury, growth abnormalities, or orthodontic treatment limitations. In any case, careful evaluation, planning, and collaboration between dental professionals are essential to create a tailored treatment plan that reestablishes optimal oral health, function, and facial balance.

This blog post will delve into the specific conditions that corrective jaw surgery targets, such as overbites, underbites, and facial asymmetry. Additionally, we will discuss the thorough evaluation process and planning that precedes surgery, including diagnostic imaging and virtual surgical planning. Furthermore, we will cover the surgical process, associated risks, and recovery expectations, as well as discuss the long-term benefits that orthognathic surgery provides, both functionally and cosmetically.

Conditions That May Require Corrective Jaw Surgery

Orthognathic surgery targets various conditions involving the jaw and face, including but not limited to:

  1. Overbite: An overbite occurs when the upper jaw protrudes excessively over the lower jaw, causing bite misalignment and potential tooth wear.
  2. Underbite: An underbite, or prognathism, results when the lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw, making proper biting and chewing difficult.
  3. Open Bite: An open bite refers to a situation where the upper and lower front teeth do not make contact when the mouth is closed, impairing speech and eating function.
  4. Facial Asymmetry and Growth Irregularities: Issues such as congenital defects or uneven growth of the jaw can result in facial asymmetry, impacting both appearance and function.

The Evaluation and Planning Process

A thorough evaluation and planning process serves as the foundation for successful orthognathic surgery. This process typically involves:

  1. Medical and Dental History: Reviewing your medical and dental history helps identify pertinent information, such as previous orthodontic treatment or growth abnormalities.
  2. Clinical Examination: A detailed clinical examination allows Dr. Maurer to assess the jaw’s position, alignment, and function, determining the need for corrective jaw surgery.
  3. Diagnostic Imaging: Advanced imaging techniques, like X-rays and CT scans, are crucial for visualizing the jaw’s structures and planning the surgical procedure.
  4. Virtual Surgical Planning: With the aid of computer software and 3D models, the surgical team can pre-plan the procedure, simulating the predicted outcome and making necessary adjustments to ensure optimal results.
  5. Orthodontic Treatment: In conjunction with surgery, orthodontic treatment may be required before and after surgery to achieve proper teeth alignment and bite stability.

The Corrective Jaw Surgery Process

Corrective jaw surgery involves several steps and may include one or both jaws, depending on the individual case. The process typically includes:

  1. Anesthesia: The procedure is performed under general anesthesia or IV sedation to ensure patient comfort throughout the surgery.
  2. Incisions and Bone Manipulation: Incisions are made inside the mouth to access the jawbones, minimizing visible scarring. The bone is then cut, repositioned, and secured using surgical plates and screws.
  3. Bone Grafting: In some instances, bone grafting may be necessary to add stability or correct any deficiencies in the jawbone.
  4. Closure: Once the desired jaw position is achieved, incisions are closed using sutures.

Risks and Recovery Expectations

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with corrective jaw surgery. These risks can include infection, bleeding, temporary or permanent numbness, and unfavorable scarring. However, careful planning and diligent postoperative care can minimize these risks, ensuring a successful outcome.

In terms of recovery, patients can expect the following:

  1. Hospital Stay: A short hospital stay, typically 1-2 days, may be necessary to monitor postoperative progress and manage initial recovery.
  2. Swelling and Pain: Swelling and mild to moderate pain may occur and can be managed with prescribed medications and cold compresses.
  3. Diet: A soft diet is generally recommended for several weeks following surgery, gradually transitioning back to regular foods as directed by the surgical team.
  4. Oral Hygiene: Diligent oral hygiene is crucial during the recovery period to minimize the risk of infection. Gentle brushing and rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash can help maintain cleanliness.
  5. Activity Restrictions: Patients should refrain from heavy lifting and intense physical activity for at least 3-4 weeks following surgery, as advised by Dr. Maurer.

Long-Term Benefits of Corrective Jaw Surgery

The long-term benefits of orthognathic surgery encompass both functional and cosmetic improvements. These benefits may include:

  1. Improved Biting and Chewing: Restoring proper jaw alignment can significantly enhance the ability to bite, chew, and enjoy a wider variety of foods.
  2. Enhanced Speech: Correcting jaw misalignments can substantially improve speech clarity and function.
  3. Reduced Pain and Discomfort: By aligning the jaw, orthognathic surgery can alleviate pain associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues and other jaw-related discomfort.
  4. Aesthetics: Corrective jaw surgery can enhance facial balance and harmony, resulting in a more symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Conclusion

Corrective jaw surgery can be a life-changing treatment for patients who experience various jaw and facial irregularities. With his extensive experience and expertise, Dr. Jarom E. Maurer, DMD, at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Centery can develop a personalized treatment plan to address and correct these issues, providing patients with lasting functional and aesthetic improvements. If you or a loved one experiences problems related to jaw alignment or facial growth, consider scheduling a consultation with an oral surgeon in Bozeman to explore the possibility of corrective jaw surgery and discuss your unique case with Dr. Maurer.