Chatting with friends, enjoying a hearty meal, getting a good night’s sleep - some of us don’t think twice about these normal everyday activities. What many don’t realize is that every one of those actions can be made difficult or even painful by a severe underbite, overbite or open bite.
Often, a misalignment of the jaws is related to TMD, or jaw pain. Often times these issues can be resolved with braces or Invisalign alone, but in more severe cases orthodontics must be done in combination with jaw correction through a procedure known as orthognathic surgery.
The word “orthognathic” actually originated from Greek roots, including the word “gnathic” for jaw and the word “orthos” for straighten. Thus, orthognathic surgery adjusts the jaw to allow maximum functioning capability. This jaw surgery is available to patients whose jaw position causes pain or prevents proper function. It is performed near the end of your orthodontic treatment, and your orthodontist partners with your orthognathic surgeon to carefully plan and treat jaw misalignment.
The best part - besides having a fully functioning jaw of course - is that the surgery usually takes place inside the mouth, so you won’t be left with scars on your face. Read on to learn about the types and benefits of jaw surgery to see if it could be right for you.
Types of Jaw Surgery
Jaw surgery can adjust the upper or lower jaw (or both) to the correct position, size or shape so that the front teeth touch and close for effective chewing and a beautiful, effortless smile. Chin surgery, or genioplasty, is also considered part of jaw surgery because the lower jaw’s position affects the fullness of the chin. For instance, someone with a severe overbite might have less chin definition because the lower jaw is so far receded.
Why Jaw Realignment Surgery?
Patients seek jaw surgery because of a variety of oral issues from wear and tear on their teeth to jaw joint pain (TMD) accompanied by headaches. Struggling to bite, chew and swallow food is a very common issue among prospective jaw surgery patients. Audible breathing, speech impediments or snoring may also stem from the abnormal shape and size of the mouth’s opening. An open bite may additionally make it difficult for someone to close their lips around a straw or close their mouth completely while eating and drinking.
In some patients, these issues exist from birth, perhaps in conjunction with a cleft palate or due to their jaws’ growing at different rates and ceasing development at different points. In other cases, the problems may arise in a patient who has experienced physical trauma in some kind of accident. The origin of these issues is significant because it may factor into how the misalignment is treated. In most cases, the cause is an uneven growth rate of the upper or lower jaw.
The primary goal and result of jaw surgery is typically to relieve pain and improve the bite. This helps the patient to eat nutritious foods in a variety of consistencies, and chew meals thoroughly for healthy digestion. However, many times jaw surgery also helps patients to speak more clearly, and - as an additional bonus - it tends to boost their confidence because they feel and look their best!
Jaw Surgery Recovery
Your orthodontist and orthognathic surgeon will give you specific recovery information based on your unique case, but usually the patient can move his or her mouth and talk shortly after the surgery. The only restriction on most patients is to avoid contact sports for the first few months, and generally patients are advised to stick to soft foods for the first few weeks following surgery.
Overall, the recovery period is surprisingly brief for most patients. The remainder of the patient’s orthodontic treatment will take place after the jaw surgery, and then it’s all complete!
Northern Virginia Jaw Surgery Experts
Here at Hudson Orthodontics, we have extensive experience with restoring function and balance to the mouth and face with traditional braces, Invisalign and various other treatments. For our jaw surgery cases, we work with the patient and a team of surgeons to analyze problems with the jaw, determine causes of misalignment and map effective treatment plans.
We are wholly invested in producing stunning results that leave our patients healthier, more comfortable and more confident. If an underbite or overbite has been troubling you, please don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation with us, your Northern Virginia jaw surgery experts.