For years now, you’ve been dealing with jaw issues. You’ve tried different treatments, but none of them have been effective. So, now you’re wondering about jaw surgery: is it right for you?
Depending on your circumstances, it just might be. Looking to learn more? This article has all the information you need.
What is Jaw Surgery?
Jaw surgery is a medical procedure wherein the jawbone is cut and reshaped. It’s used to combat tooth misalignment, tooth overcrowding, swallowing issues, speech problems, and a range of other medical diagnoses.
Once the surgeon has altered the positioning of the jawbone, he or she holds it in place with the use of screws, wires, and/or plates. These entities maintain the positioning of the jaw until it is able to heal.
Depending on the circumstances, jaw surgery can be performed on the top jawbone, the bottom jawbone, the chin, or any configuration of the three. As it’s an invasive surgery, it’s considered to be a major medical procedure.
During the procedure, the patient is administered general anesthesia. As such, he or she is not awake during the surgery. The surgery typically lasts a few hours, with the exact length varying based on the complexity of the procedure.
The most simple jaw surgeries involve work on the jaws only. The most complex jaw surgeries involve taking bone from other parts of the body (such as the hip) and transplanting them to the jaw.
When Might Jaw Surgery Be Necessary?
There are a number of circumstances in which it might be necessary, including:
When Facial Asymmetry is Present
Do you have an overbite, an underbite, or a crossbite? If so, jaw surgery might very well be the procedure for you.
While braces can treat the most minor of these cases, they aren’t sufficient for treating extreme asymmetries. When it comes to extreme asymmetries, corrective jaw surgery is usually needed.
When the Patient Has TMJ Disorder
The temporomandibular joint or TMJ connects the jawbone to the skull. Unfortunately, in some individuals, it becomes compromised, leading to extreme pain.
In some cases, this problem can be treated with regular stretching and pain medication use. But when it comes to the most severe cases, only jaw surgery will do.
When the Patient is Having Trouble Swallowing
Any number of circumstances can lead to issues with swallowing. Much of the time, these issues can be solved through non-surgical means. However, in rare cases, jaw surgery becomes necessary.
When the Patient is Having Trouble Speaking
Not only can swallowing issues be caused by dysfunction in the jaw, but speaking issues as well. While jaw surgery is used as an absolute last resort for the treatment of speech issues, it is, indeed, a viable option.
When the Patient Suffers From Sleep Apnea
One of the most dangerous sleep conditions there is, sleep apnea is a condition wherein the affected ceases to breathe for short periods while sleeping. It is most commonly caused by soft tissue in the throat. This tissue thickens as the affected gains weight, and periodically blocks his or her airway.
That said, there is another issue that can lead to sleep apnea: jaw dysfunction. In cases where the jaw is to blame, jaw surgery is sometimes used as treatment. Note, though, that other forms of treatment will be tried first.
When the Teeth Are Misaligned
In the majority of cases, misaligned teeth can be corrected by braces. However, if the misalignment is particularly extreme, it might necessitate full-on jaw surgery.
Such a procedure would see the jaw moved either up, down, left, or to the right. If the teeth are overcrowded, the jaw might need to be widened.
When the Patient Has a Cosmetic Defect
Whether they be there from birth or inflicted in accidents, cosmetic defects are fairly common along the jaw. If the patient wishes, he or she can undergo jaw surgery in order to correct these defects.
Preparing Yourself for Jaw Surgery
In many cases, in order to prepare him or herself for jaw surgery, the patient must wear braces. These will be worn anywhere from 12 to 18 months straight, and, in some cases, even longer, altering the jaws just enough so that a viable surgery can be completed.
Your surgeon will inform you as to the specifics of your surgery and will provide you with additional information as needed. Your job is to cooperate and follow your surgeon’s instructions to a tee.
Jaw Surgery Recovery
As was noted above, jaw surgery is an invasive procedure. So, as you might expect, it requires a good deal of recovery time.
You will undoubtedly feel discomfort after the surgery has been completed, and will most likely experience pain as well. It’s not uncommon for patients to experience extreme exhaustion either.
As such, the vast majority of patients take time off of work or school after the procedure has been completed. Time off can range from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the extent of the surgery and the effect that it’s had on the patient.
In the weeks following the surgery, you’re advised to use low-level painkillers (ie. Advil, Motrin, etc.). You’ll also have to stay away from hard foods. If your case is particularly severe, you might even have to eat your food through a straw.
Interested in Undergoing Jaw Surgery in Lexington, KY?
What do you think? Is jaw surgery right for you? If so, and if you’re looking to undergo jaw surgery in Lexington, KY, Jenkins, Morrow & Gayheart has you covered.
Sporting a team of seasoned surgeons, we’ve performed jaw surgery on countless individuals throughout the Lexington area. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!