Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery
Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery, realigns the jaws and teeth to improve their function and the facial proportion. It can also be performed to increase the size of the airway in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
Who is a good candidate for orthognathic surgery?
Corrective jaw surgery is performed after growth stops, usually around ages 14 to 16 years for females and ages 17 to 21 years for males. Patients with medical problems are candidates for surgery as long as they are in their optimal health and are well informed of their peri-operative risks. For patients who seek correction of misaligned jaws, orthodontia treatment is often necessary before and after surgery.
How is the surgery performed?
Jaw surgery are performed through incisions hidden inside the mouth and can be done to just single jaw or both jaws. Most surgeries are planned virtually along with the orthodontists to optimize outcome and reduce orthodontia treatment time. If teeth alignment is not the main concern, the advancement of both jaws are also virtually planned to maximize the airway without compromising post-op speech. During surgery, cuts are made in the bone to allow for free movement of the teeth bearing segments. The segments are then fixed in place with plate and screw based on the pre-op planning. Orthognathic surgery can be combined with genioplasty to correct any residual asymmetry of the lower jaw bone.
What is the recovery?
Most patients requires one overnight stay in the hospital or surgery center for monitoring and pain control. Significant swelling of the face is expected in the first week and often resolved by one month. After surgery, elastic bands may be present to guide the alignment of the jaws. Patients are recommended to have soft diet for 3-4 weeks and are expected to lose 10-15 pounds post-operatively due to diet restriction and discomfort. Close follow up and continued treatment with orthodontists are vital to surgical success for jaw realignment.