Corrective Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)
Orthognathic surgery is a surgical correction procedure that is used in fixing abnormalities of the upper jaw (maxilla), the lower jaw (mandible), or both. This abnormality may occur as growth defect, birth defect, the outcome of injury or trauma to the jaw area.
Orthognathic surgery is usually carried out by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and it helps to correct bad bite (malocclusion), especially in cases where routine orthodontic treatment will not be helpful. Orthognathic surgeries have to do with reconstructing the maxilla osteotomy, mandibular osteotomy, and mandibular ramus.
Some of the classifications of malocclusion which may require orthognathic surgery include:
Class I Occlusion – what this malocclusion means is that you have the lower anterior incisors sitting behind the upper anterior incisors when the patient decides to bite down. It is usually not as destructive as Class II and Class III malocclusions.
Class II Malocclusion – here the lower anterior incisors appear to be lying behind the upper anterior incisors when a patient bites down, sometimes touching the soft tissue at the back of the upper incisors. This is often referred to as overbite and be can be extremely uncomfortable, leading to excessive wear of the front teeth, bone damage, and tooth loss.
Class III Malocclusion – this is generally referred to as an underbite and it happens with the lower jaw and incisors being positioned beyond the upper teeth, resulting in the protrusion of the lower jaw than the upper jaw.
Reasons for orthognathic surgery
Malocclusion can cause the development of destructive forces among the five powerful muscles controlling the jaw. These muscles produce a lot of force when chewing, grinding, or clenching. Misalignment can negatively affect the aesthetic appearance and functionality of the teeth if not treated, such as:
- Tooth Wear – when it comes to an overbite, the wear and pressure on the teeth are evenly distributed. Also, this can result in conditions such as tooth loss, TMJ, and migraine headaches.
- Chronic Muscle Pain, Jaw Pain, & Headache – poorly aligned teeth cause a change in the interaction of facial muscles. Sometimes there can be damage to the meniscus cartilage – the cartilage that acts as a buffer between the jawbones.
- Loose Teeth – with the continuous exertion of uneven pressure or damage to soft tissue due to an overbite, adjacent teeth may lose their grip on the sockets, resulting in serious pain.
- Tooth Sensitivity – with constant use of the teeth, the enamel grows thinner with time and there is less protection for the nerves, which can make you experience sharp pains when you eat cold or hot foods.
- Difficulty Biting, Chewing, or Swallowing Food – each one of them can be traced to poor alignment of the lower and upper jaws or muscle pain.
What does orthognathic surgery involve?
When dentist decide that a patient would require orthognathic surgery, a comprehensive photographic examination is usually conducted. These analyses include radiographs, panorex x-rays, models, cephalometric x-rays, and impressions. The dentist will work with the orthodontist and the oral & maxillofacial surgeon to determine the effect that corrective surgery will have on the aesthetic appearance and functionality of your teeth and entire face.
Orthodontic braces are essentially used to straighten the teeth and align the arches before surgery, and also, the use of retainers may be adopted after the surgery. During maxillary surgery, tiny wires, rubber bands, screws, and plates may be used to move and secure the upper jaw in a position. Surgery is then carried out on the lower jaw, a bone graft is used in aligning the lower jaw into the proper position. Orthognathic surgery usually requires anesthesia and excellent aftercare. Medication will be prescribed to the patient to ease the pain after treatment. Post-treatment advice and modified diet may also be recommended.