Jaw surgery, technically known as orthognathic surgery, is performed to correct irregularities on your jaw. This procedure is designed to re-align the jaws and teeth to restore function. At the same time, this surgery is meant to improve the facial appearance of the patient.
What You Need to Know About Jaw Surgery
If you have TMJ or your jaw is misaligned, your doctor might suggest that you undergo jaw surgery. This procedure can fix your teeth and jaw, as well as correct any facial deformities that you might have. Here are some of the things you need to know before proceeding with this surgery:
- Jaw surgery is recommended for anyone who has bite problems, have difficulty swallowing or with speech, suffer from facial imbalance, disruptive sleep apnea, and locked jaw issues. It is also a common procedure for anyone dealing with TMJ pain.
- Jaw surgery is a generally safe procedure when performed by expert surgeons. The OMS surgeon will often work with an orthodontist to perform this procedure. There are certain risks with this surgery, though, such as loss of a portion of the jaw, jaw fracture, infection, nerve injury, and relapse of jaw’s position.
- An orthodontist will require you to wear braces prior to surgery (for about 12-18 months prior). This will ensure alignment of your teeth before the surgery is done. You will also undergo x-rays and models of your teeth will be taken to help plan your jaw surgery. Other preparatory steps include CT scanning and use of temporary orthodontic anchoring device.
- The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure is done inside your mouth so you won’t see any facial scars after the procedure. It could be targeted on your upper or lower jaw, chin, or a combination of these.
- After your surgery, follow the recommendations from your surgeons on what to eat and things you should avoid. In general, any strenuous activity is prohibited and you will have to take medications for the pain.
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Jaw Surgery Recovery
When you undergo jaw surgery, the recovery process usually takes about 6 weeks following the surgical procedure. But you can expect complete healing within 3 months. During the initial healing process, which happens around week 6 from surgery, you will return to your orthodontist to perform aligning of your teeth with the use of braces.
There will be swelling within the first few days to weeks following your procedure. There will also be discomfort and drooling. You should also sleep with your head elevated within the first two weeks. Other things to expect during the recovery period would be bleeding on your nose within the first two days and that you will be dealing with nausea.
In total, patients can expect a full recovery from jaw surgery (including the placement of braces) for several years. It will also depend on the extent of the surgical procedure and what type of corrections was done.
Jaw Surgery for TMJ
TMJ can be cured using a variety of non-invasive methods and exercises for pain relief. In some cases, using a mouth guard can help alleviate the symptoms of TMJ. But for severe cases, jaw surgery could be recommended. This is based on your doctor’s assessment and it is designed to be a corrective procedure.
The procedure is done by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Their expertise lies in correcting misaligned skeletal structures and dental problems, which includes TMJ. When you undergo this procedure, it not only eases the pain associated with TMJ but also restores normal functions that rely on your jaws, such as speaking, chewing, biting, and breathing.
Cosmetic Jaw Surgery
As mentioned above, jaw surgery can also improve facial appearance. Even when you do not have TMJ or there are no major irregularities in your jaw structure, a cosmetic jaw surgery could be performed for qualified patients.