Jaw surgery is also known as orthognathic surgery and corrects the alignment of teeth and jaws, so they meet together properly. Treatment is usually carried out once the jaws have finished growing and developing, between ages fourteen and sixteen for females and seventeen to twenty-one for males.
Jaw surgery may be needed if there are problems that cannot be corrected using orthodontics alone. It may be necessary to have braces before surgery and during recovery after surgery until the jaws have healed and are correctly aligned.
Treatment can help improve jaw function, making it easier to bite and chew food and speak clearly. It can also aid breathing and may help people with obstructive sleep apnoea. Jaw surgery can correct problems affecting swallowing and helps to minimise excessive wear and tear on teeth that currently bite together incorrectly. We can use surgery to create a more balanced facial profile, addressing crossbites, underbites and overbites, and small chins.
When the jaws are aligned correctly, it is easier for the lips to close properly. Poorly aligned jaws can cause temporomandibular joint disorder, a painful condition affecting the temporomandibular joints (jaw joints). Aligning the jaws can help relieve this pain and address other jaw problems. Jaw surgery is also used to correct congenital disabilities and can repair facial injuries.
Our oral surgeons collaborate closely with the referring dentist or orthodontist and use diagnostic 2-D and 3-D images to plan surgery precisely. The procedure is carried out using general anaesthesia, and it may be necessary to stay in hospital for several days afterwards, during initial healing.
Usually, surgery is performed by making an incision in the mouth, so there are no noticeable scars. However, it is sometimes necessary to make small incisions outside of the mouth, but great care is taken to ensure they are as small and unobtrusive as possible.
After the jaw is moved into the correct position, it is secured using small plates, screws and wires. In some cases, it is necessary to add bone to the jaw, taken from another site such as the hip, rib or leg.
We provide precise instructions for patients to follow once they leave the hospital and are always here to provide additional help if required. It is best to stick to soft or liquid foods for the first few days and gradually introduce more foods as the mouth heals. It can take up to twelve weeks for the jaws to fully heal.