Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery

Surgical procedures may be required to correct jaw deformities.

What is Orthognathic (jaw) surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is required when the jaws do not meet correctly and/or teeth do not seem to fit with jaws. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics and corrective jaw surgery repositions misaligned jaws. This not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly.

Who needs Orthognathic Surgery?

People who can benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite or jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a gradual process and in some instances the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that can affect chewing, function, speech, long-term oral health, and appearance. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment and position. Orthodontics alone can correct many bite problems if it is only the teeth that are involved. However, orthognathic surgery may be required if the jaws also need repositioning.

Jaw positioning may also be required to treat other conditions such as chewing, biting or swallowing difficulties; speech problems; open bite; protruding jaw; unbalanced facial appearance; facial injury; birth defects; receding chin; or the Inability to make lips meet without effort. These conditions may be the result of a variety of factors. They may exist at birth or may be acquired after birth as a result of hereditary or environmental influences, or trauma to the face. Osteotomys are performed when it has not been possible to correct your teeth and how they bite together with orthodontics alone. This is because the bones of your face and jaws are out of balance with one another. Surgery will change the relationship between your lower jaw and upper jaw and will correct these problems. The surgery will take place under a general anaesthetic.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is almost entirely carried out from the inside of your mouth to minimise visible scars on the skin of your face. A cut is made through the gum behind the back teeth to gain access to the jawbone. The lower jaw is then cut with a small saw to allow it to be broken in a controlled manner. It is then moved into its new position and held in place with small metal plates and screws.

Occasionally it is necessary to make a small “stab” incision on the skin of the face to allow the screws to be inserted. This incision is a few millimetres long and usually only requires a single stitch to hold it back together. The gum inside the mouth is stitched back into place with dissolvable stitches that can take a fortnight or even longer to fall out.

Immediately after the operation your face will be swollen and feel tight, your jaws will be stiff and you will find that you cannot open your mouth widely. Your throat may also be uncomfortable and swallowing can be difficult to begin with. Swelling and bruising is variable but is generally worst on the second or third day after the operation.