Jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery (Corrective Jaw Surgery) or jawline surgery is an inpatient procedure performed to improve dentofacial deformities and realign misaligned teeth and jaws to enhance their function.
Dental irregularities may be caused by a number of factors. Some of the common causes include; gum disease, injury, tumors of the mouth, or birth defects.
You can have it done on your upper jaw, lower jaw, chin, or a combination of any of these. Depending on the target area, types of jaw surgery include:
- Lower jaw surgery (mandibular osteotomy): helps correct a receding or protruding lower jaw.
- Upper jaw surgery (maxillary osteotomy): can correct a receding or protruding upper jaw, crossbite, overbite, open bite, too much or too little teeth showing, and midfacial hypoplasia.
- Double jaw surgery (bimaxillary Osteotomy): performed to correct jaw misalignment, and jaw size, balance facial features, improve jaw function, relieve facial pain, and improve obstructive sleep apnea.
- Chin surgery (genioplasty): corrects a weak or receding chin.
What can jaw surgery do?
Improving the alignment of the jaws and chin has various benefits, including:
- Correcting facial imbalance (asymmetry)
- Making biting and chewing easier
- Correcting overbite and underbite
- Improving the ability to breathe
- Improving speech impediments
- Correcting jaw closure issues
- Minimizing excessive wear of teeth from grinding
- Provide relief for obstructive sleep apnea
- Relieve temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and chronic jaw pain
- Repair jaw deformities resulting from facial injuries, birth defects, genetic conditions, and bone disease
Jawline Surgery for Males and Females
For both males and females, reconstructive jaw surgery is only appropriate after growth stops. Generally, this is around ages 14 to 16 years for females and 17 to 21 years of age for males.
Additionally, orthognathic surgery can help correct jaw problems that orthodontics alone cannot resolve.
Most patients usually have worn braces for some time before corrective jaw surgery.
Braces are also typically worn throughout the recovery period to help align the teeth with the new jaw shape and position.
Best Candidates for Jawline Surgery
You are an ideal candidate for jawline surgery if you have:
- Unbalanced facial features, such as a receding chin and protruding jaw
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Breathing problems
- Sleep apnea
- Speech problems
- Pain caused by TMJ and other jaw problems
- Excessive wear of teeth
- Lips that don’t meet
Moreover, a suitable candidate for jaw surgery is one who:
- Is in good health
- Has stable body weight
- Doesn’t smoke
- Has a positive outlook and realistic expectations
Jaw Surgery Procedure
What to Expect Before Jaw Surgery
Before surgery, your surgeon may perform a number of things including x-rays, giving you instructions to guide you in preparations and planning for your surgery. He may also recommend your wisdom teeth removal if the need arises.
You may be required to avoid hot drinks and heavy meals prior to surgery. Because you might be exhausted after surgery and the effects of anesthesia, your surgeon may tell you to come with someone to drive you home.
Video Showing How Corrective Jaw Surgery is Performed.
If you don’t like the video or need to learn more about what to expect, then continue reading.
During Jaw Surgery
Usually, a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon makes incisions inside your mouth.
Doing so prevents visible scarring on your jaw, chin, or mouth area.
However, the surgeon may sometimes have to make small incisions outside the mouth.
During the procedure, patients are usually under general anesthesia.
The surgeon cuts the jawbone requiring correction and moves it forward or backward along the jawline or replaces it with jaw implants.
He/she then secures the jawbone in its new position using metal plates, screws, wires, or rubber bands.
In some patients, the surgeon adds extra bone harvested from the hip, leg, or rib to the jaw.
While in others, the surgeon reduces or reshapes the jawbone to achieve a better fit.
Jaw surgery takes 2 to 5 hours and involves a hospital stay of 2 to 4 days.
Possible Risks and Complications of Jaw Surgery
Jaw surgery is generally safe and effective when performed by an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Usually, the surgeon works in collaboration with an orthodontist to determine the right treatment plan. However, like all surgical procedures, orthognathic surgery has various risks, including:
- Excess bleeding
- Nerve injury
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jawbone fracture
- Jaw joint pain
- Need for root canal treatment on selected teeth
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia, such as lightheadedness and low blood pressure
- Poor cosmetic outcome
- Need for further surgery
After surgery, you may experience pain, swelling, redness, and bleeding for up to 10 days.
You can also expect to have eating problems, which you can address with nutritional supplements and the help of a dietitian.
If your bleeding can’t stop or you notice anything unusual with your healing process, consult your surgeon immediately.
Jaw Surgery Recovery Time
The time one takes to fully recover after undergoing a reconstructive jaw surgery differs from one patient to another.
A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to Assess the patient-reported time to recovery after orthognathic surgery shows that the entire recovery process will take 6 to 12 weeks after surgery.
Following initial jaw healing, which typically takes about six weeks, your orthodontist will finish aligning your teeth with braces.
Before you leave the hospital, your surgeon will give you antibiotics and painkillers to prevent infection and pain.
Also, he/she will provide you with post-operative instructions that generally include:
- What you can eat: likely a liquid-only diet for several days, then a soft food diet for the first few weeks
- Oral hygiene: instructions include regular warm salt water mouthwashes and brushing with a soft toothbrush after every meal
- No smoking
- Avoid strenuous activities
- Time off work or school for 1 to 3 weeks
The entire process of correcting the alignment of your jaws and teeth through surgery and orthodontics may take several years.
Note: when you get your braces removed, your orthodontist may use retainers to hold your teeth in position.
Jaw Surgery Cost
According to CostHelper Health, jaw surgery costs between $20,000 to $40,000.
The exact cost will vary depending on several patient-specific factors. These include, but are not limited to:
- Fees of the surgeon and orthodontist
- Facility fees
- General anesthesia fees
- The severity of jaw misalignment
- Any additional tests
- Hospital stay costs
- Orthodontic treatment costs
- Post-surgery medications and care
- Follow-up costs
In general, corrective jaw surgery is considered a medical procedure rather than a cosmetic surgery procedure.
For this reason, many health insurance policies will cover at least part of the cost of orthognathic surgery aimed at treating a documented, specific health problem.
However, ensure to find out first what your insurance company will and will not pay for before scheduling treatment.
How to Find a Provider
Finding a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon is essential in determining the success of your orthognathic surgery procedure.
Having a solid set of minimum criteria can offer a good starting point in vetting potential surgeon candidates.
Your checklist may include questions such as:
- Are you board-certified?
- How many jaw surgery procedures have you performed?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- What will be expected of me to get the best results?
- What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my jaw surgery?
Jaw surgery, which is also known as orthognathic surgery, corrects misalignment in one or both of your jaws.
The procedure requires the use of general anesthesia and a 2 to 4-day hospital stay. Although it’s generally safe for suitable candidates, there are several risks associated with jaw surgery.
These include poor cosmetic results, infection, nerve damage, and blood loss.
Recovery from jaw surgery typically takes 6 to 12 weeks.
During this time your orthodontist uses braces and other orthodontic therapies to help keep your teeth aligned.
The cost of jaw surgery depends on several factors that vary from individual to individual. It’s crucial to understand what your insurance covers before scheduling your procedure.
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- AEDIT, Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)(June 26,2019). aedit.com/procedure/jaw-surgery-orthognathic-surgery.
- Rooz K., Jill S., Types of Jaw Surgery and the Reasons for Each.(June 12, 2020). healthline.com/health/surgery-for-jaw.
- Jaw surgery: Information for patients. (2015). ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/121105jawsurgery.pdf
- Orthognathic Surgery Cost(n.d). health.costhelper.com/orthognathic-surgery.html.