Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic Surgery corrects abnormalities of the maxilla (upper jaw), the mandible (lower jaw) or both. Dr. Jones performs this procedure when a patient’s jaws do not meet correctly and/or teeth do not seem to fit with jaws. In conjunction with this procedure, teeth are straightened with orthodontics. The combination improves facial appearance and ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly.

Patients who can benefit from this surgery are those with an improper bite or jaws that are positioned incorrectly.

What Happens When Jaws/Teeth are Misaligned?

Jaw growth is a gradual process. For some people, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates.  This can cause a variety of problems that affect chewing, speech, long term oral health and appearance.  A misaligned jaw may result from a birth defect, a growth defect or traumatic injuries to the jaw area.

There are several types/classifications of malocclusion (the improper coming together of teeth) that may require Orthognathic Surgery:

Class I Occlusion: This misalignment means that the lower 4 front teeth (anterior incisors) sit directly behind the 4 upper front teeth (upper anterior incisors) when you bite down. In other words, those sets of teeth are too close together.
Class II Malocclusion: In this misalignment, the lower 4 front teeth lie significantly behind the upper 4 front teeth when you bite down, sometimes to the point of hitting the soft tissue on the roof of your mouth. Commonly known as an overbite, it can cause discomfort, bone damage, excessive wear of the front teeth and even tooth loss.
Class III Malocclusion: This is commonly known as an underbite and occurs when your lower 4 front teeth and lower jaw are positioned in front of the upper teeth, making the lower jaw extend beyond the upper jaw.

What are the Signs of Needing Orthognathic Surgery?

Malocclusion of the teeth can severely damage the powerful muscles that control the closing and opening of your jaw. These muscles create a tremendous force when you clench, grind or chew. If left untreated, misalignment can seriously damage the function and appearance of your teeth:

Tooth Wear: In the case of an overbite, the pressure and wear on your teeth is not spread evenly. This can also lead to TMJ, migraine headaches and tooth loss.
Chronic Jaw, Muscle Pain & Headache: Misalignment of teeth alters the way your facial muscles interact. In some cases, the cartilage that acts as a buffer between the jawbones can be painfully damaged.
Loose Teeth: When uneven pressure is continually exerted or soft tissue is damaged by an overbite, your adjacent teeth may become loose, causing pain and reducing proper function.
Tooth Sensitivity: As teeth become damaged by constant use, the enamel becomes thinner and the nerves are less protected. This lack of protection can lead to sharp pains when you eat hot or cold foods.
Difficulty Swallowing, Chewing, or Biting Food: Each of these can be associated with muscle pain and/or poor alignment of your upper and lower jaws.

Any or all of the above are signs that you are likely a candidate for Orthognathic Surgery.

What is the First Step?

When you are identified as a candidate for Orthognathic Surgery, Dr. Jones will conduct a complete photographic analysis to determine the optimal procedures for your unique situation. This includes a full-spectrum of x-rays, models and impressions. Dr. Jones and your orthodontist will work together to consider how the corrective surgery will impact both proper jaw function and the appearance of your entire face.

What Does Orthognathic Surgery Involve?

Orthodontic braces are typically necessary to align the arches and straighten teeth both before and after surgery. During maxillary surgery, the upper jaw is surgically moved into correct alignment and may be secured in position using tiny plates, wires, rubber bands and screws. Surgery on the lower jaw is performed to align it correctly, too. Orthognathic Surgery is performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis right here in the comfort and ease of our office.

To help you manage swelling and discomfort, we will release you with our thorough post-operative instructions and medication. You may also be provided with a modified soft to liquid diet for a short time. Of course, we are available for ongoing support for any of your questions or concerns, as well.