Orthognathic (‘straight jaw’) surgery is an operation done by Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons to realign the jaws which may be malpositioned due to genetics, growth malformation or facial trauma. The goal is to put the jaws into a more standard position and this can involve moving jaws forwards/backwards, vertically up or down, or widening of the jaws. The surgery may be performed on the upper jaw, lower jaw, the chin or combinations depending where the issue is. Such precision surgery should only be entrusted to a skilled oral and maxillofacial surgery who will work closely with your orthodontist to provide the best possible result.
Although your specialist orthodontist may be able to create a nicely aligned set of straight teeth without surgery, this is often accompanied with compromises relating to function, appearance and long term stability of the result. Both surgeon and orthodontist will explained your options so you can make the best decision for yourself.
The benefits of realigning the jaws may include significant improvements in chewing ability, a more stable orthodontic result (i.e. the teeth are less inclined to move after braces come off), improved periodontal (gum) health, less stress on the jaw joints and a balanced facial profile with cosmetic benefits.
Orthognathic surgery may also be proposed in patients with advanced obstructive sleep apnoea. The movement of the jaws ‘forward’ can improve night time breathing and have a significant beneficial effect on long term health (i.e. avoidance of heart complications).
The surgical technique will be explained by your surgeon. It is typically performed intra-orally (through cuts in the mouth) with no or hidden external incisions on the face.
After repositioning of the jaws has been performed, metal plates and screws are used to secure the result. These will remain buried under the gums permanently and do not usually require removal.
These procedures remain one of the most demanding Oral & Maxillofacial surgery operations performed. Such surgery relies on the alignment of the teeth and recognition of the bite before, during and after the operation. As such, you may appreciate why having a specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon is of vital importance with this type of surgery.
Your surgeon will follow you frequently post operatively for a prolonged period ensuring the best clinical outcomes are achieved.
Orthognathic procedures generally take between one and four hours. Most patients are in hospital for two to three days and require from one to four weeks away from work. The jaws are not wired after the procedure and the patient may eat a soft diet for four weeks following which they may return to a normal diet.