Corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a surgery to correct bone problems in a person’s jaw that can’t be corrected with braces and orthodontic elastics alone. It’s a fairly common orthodontic problem and most of the time it is due to genetics.
People with these bone problems sometimes have a bottom jaw that protrudes further out than their top jaw, or their teeth are misaligned in another way. These bone problems can cause many challenges in every day life, such as trouble chewing, talking or sleeping. Some people can even experience other issues like chipped teeth as a result of the teeth hitting each other, painful issues like Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) or even seemingly unrelated challenges like sleep apnea. If your orthodontist think you may need corrective jaw surgery, they may refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in jaw surgery.
What happens when you get the surgery?
While orthodontists work closely with oral and maxillofacial surgeons to create treatment plans, orthodontists don’t perform corrective jaw surgery themselves. Instead, you will go to a surgery centre where your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will place you under general anesthesia. You will be asleep throughout the entire procedure.
Once you’re asleep the surgeon will separate your top, bottom, or both of your jaws (not break it open, as some people have said). This is done by making incisions in your mouth where needed and cutting into your jaw bones, moving jaw into its ideal position. The surgeon may place screws or other devices to ensure your jaw stays in position. The jaws will be wired together (inter-maxillary fixation) using stainless steel wires during the surgery to ensure the correct re-positioning of the bones. This in most cases is released before the patient wakes up. Some surgeons prefer to wire the jaws shut.
Will it hurt?
After the surgery you will have some soreness in your jaw and you will be put on a liquid diet for some time. You will also be given prescription pain medication to relieve the pain.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery time varies for orthognathic surgery, but you are usually able to return to work or school within a month.
How much does corrective jaw surgery cost?
The cost for corrective jaw surgery can cost between $5,000 – $7,000, but it will depend on your specific bone issues. Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will provide you with a quote during your initial consultation.