It’s estimated that as many as 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders, with jaw problems occurring more frequently in women than men.

Your jaw plays an important role in many different functions. It enables chewing, helps you speak clearly, regulates airflow, and enhances facial symmetry.

But some people suffer from jaw damages that greatly impair their ability to perform these basic functions. Fortunately, orthognathic surgery can help.

What’s the purpose of orthognathic surgery? How does orthognathic surgery work? What should I expect from orthognathic surgery before and after?

Keep reading to get the answers to your orthognathic surgery questions.

What Is Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery, also known as jaw surgery, is a procedure that corrects irregularities within the jawbone. It realigns the jaws and teeth to improve functions and facial appearance.

Jaw surgery is for people who had been unsuccessful in fixing their facial issues through standard orthopedic solutions.

The surgery can repair dental and skeletal irregularities and improve a patient’s eating, chewing, and speaking. The procedure may also enhance a person’s appearance, although that is just a side effect. Orthognathic surgery aims to fix functional issues caused by jaw problems.

You may require orthognathic surgery if you have:

  • An open bite
  • Unbalanced facial structures
  • Facial injuries or birth defects
  • A receding lower jaw or chin
  • Trouble chewing, biting, or swallowing
  • Chronic TMJ pain or headaches
  • A protruding jaw
  • Chronic mouth breathing or sleep apnea

A qualified orthodontist will determine if you are suitable for jaw surgery. Depending on the severity of your jaw problems, the process could take numerous surgeries and orthodontic treatments until the procedure is complete.

How to Prepare for Orthognathic Surgery

Your oral surgeon will use X-rays, CT scanning, and models of your teeth to plan your surgery. 

Most patients will receive braces 12 to 18 months before their surgery. The braces align your teeth to ensure a smooth procedure.

Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the months leading up to your surgery. Stay active, get plenty of sleep, and keep your body hydrated. Maintain proper dental care, such as regular flossing and brushing.

The healthier you are, the faster your body can heal itself following the surgery.

If you follow your doctor’s instructions, you will have a successful orthognathic surgery. You can expect health benefits, such as improved swallowing, speaking, sleeping, and chewing. You will also experience enhanced teeth functions, facial symmetry, and self-esteem.

Orthognathic Surgery Before and After

Your oral surgeon will decide on the most suitable orthognathic surgery process based on your current and past health. 

Complications from jaw surgery are uncommon, but the risks include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve injuries
  • Blood loss
  • Jaw fractures
  • Loss of a portion of the jaw
  • Jaw joint pain
  • Jaw position relapse
  • Root canals

As long as your orthognathic surgery is performed by an experienced and well-qualified oral surgeon, there is no need to worry. 

During Surgery

Orthognathic surgery takes place in a hospital and requires patients to stay for two to four days after the procedure. The hospital will contact the patients 48 hours in advance to let them know what time they should report.

During the surgery, patients are put under general anesthesia. 

The procedure is performed inside your mouth. That means there should be no scarring along outside structures, like the jaw and chin. In some cases, doctors make tiny incisions outside of the mouth, but the blemishes typically fade.

The oral surgeon starts the surgery by making cuts along the jawbone to position the jaw into alignment. Tiny bone plates, screws, wires, and rubber bands secure the jawbones into their positions.

For some patients, extra bones from the hips, legs, or ribs may be added to the jaw. For other patients, the surgeon molds and reshapes the bone to create a secure fit.

The entire surgery can take two to three hours, depending on the complexity of the treatment.

After Corrective Jaw Surgery

What should you expect from orthognathic surgery? There are necessary instructions to follow in the days after your procedure.

Recovery time for orthognathic surgery is six weeks. Most doctors recommend patients take two weeks off of work or school following their surgery. Complete jaw healing takes up to three months.

Immediately after the surgery, you may experience postoperative symptoms such as bleeding, nausea, and swelling. They should subside within a few hours.

Swelling is common. Your face will be swollen, feel numb, and show signs of bruising for two to three weeks after your procedure. Swelling peaks on the third day, but resolves itself in two to three weeks.

After your stay in the hospital, your oral surgeon will let you know what is safe to eat, prescribe pain medicine, and guide you through the next few weeks of recovery.

Patients have to avoid tobacco use and strenuous activities for two weeks. You will adhere to a liquid diet during the first week and slowly move onto solid foods as your mouth heals.

Your surgeon will also give you instructions for proper oral hygiene to prevent post-surgery infections. Patients must rinse their mouths two to three times per day with warm salt water to soothe surgery wounds. Most patients undergo mouth therapy to re-establish a healthy range of motion. 

Two weeks after your surgery, your oral surgeon will fit you for braces. The braces secure your teeth and jawbone into their new alignment. The braces are not permanent. Your oral surgeon will determine how long you will need to wear them.

Choose Orthognathic Surgery for a Stronger Jaw

Jaw surgery takes time, energy, and patience. But the results are worth it. Orthognathic surgery creates strong and healthy jawbones, teeth, and facial structures.

Now that you know what to expect from orthognathic surgery before and after, are you ready to meet with the experts who can get you the jaw of your dreams?

Learn how orthognathic surgery can enhance your life. Contact our professional team of oral and maxillofacial surgeons now.