Orthognathic surgery (corrective jaw surgery) is surgery performed on the jaws to correct their position to improve a person’s ability to speak and eat. Orthognathic surgery can also be used to treat obstructive sleep apnoea, TMJ disorders, and orthodontic problems that cannot be treated with braces alone. The surgery often improves facial appearance.
Common jaw abnormalities that are corrected with orthognathic surgery include jaws that are too far forward, too far back, too big or too small, or crooked. These problems may have been present since birth or have developed gradually as the jaws grew or as a result of trauma.
Orthognathic surgery is often performed in conjunction with an orthodontist. You will usually require 12 – 24 months of orthodontic treatment (braces) before surgery, then about six months of orthodontic treatment after surgery.
Surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and involves making incisions inside the mouth to gain access to the jaws. The jaw bones are then cut, re-aligned, then held in place with small titanium plates and screws. Stitches will be put in the gum to close the wounds.
Following orthognathic surgery, expect to take two weeks off work, school and other duties. It is possible you will have rubber bands on your teeth to give your jaws some support. You will need to be on a pureed diet for a six-week period. In the early stages it is better to have small meals, six times a day. You will need to rinse your mouth after each meal. It is very important to not smoke, maintain excellent oral hygiene and care of the mouth to prevent an infection and ensure quick healing.
Some health funds will cover orthognathic surgery.
Risks of Orthognathic surgery
Despite the highest standard of care by your surgeon, there are always risks associated with surgery. Some risks of orthognathic surgery include:
* General anaesthesia relates risks;
* Pain and discomfort;
* Nasal obstruction and sinus problems;
* Limited mouth opening;
* Loose screws requiring removal;
* Delayed healing of bone, or non-union;
* Relapse of the new jaw position and if severe the need for repeat surgery;
* TMJ pain or abnormal functioning;
* Temporary or permanent numbness of the lip, chin, face or tongue;