What is Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is a blanket term used for a variety of jaw and facial surgeries. It corrects a range of minor and major jaw irregularities, helping patients chew, speak, and breathe better. Sometimes a patient’s appearance is also enhanced, especially the chin and lower jaw areas. Finally, a patient will experience better oral health overall after a needed surgery.

Orthognathic surgery is complex. It involves moving the bones of the upper or lower jaw, or both. Jaws are lengthened or shortened or moved up, down, in, or out, depending on the problem that needs to be corrected.

An orthognathic surgeon is a specialist in oral or maxillofacial surgery. They almost always work in conjunction and consultation with an orthodontist. For example, an orthodontist may use braces to move the patient’s teeth into the correct bite position. Then, an orthognathic surgeon will reshape the jaw and other bones, giving the patient an optimal bite and a more pleasing appearance.

The patient’s treatment team could also include a general dentist, periodontist, endodontist, or other professional.

Who is a Candidate for Orthognathic Surgery?

Anyone who exhibits the following conditions may be a good candidate for orthognathic surgery. A consultation with an oral surgeon can benefit anyone who suffers from the following issues:

  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or biting food
  • Speech problems
  • Excessive wear on teeth, known as bruxism
  • Chronic jaw pain
  • Open bite; space between top-bottom/front-back teeth when the mouth is closed
  • Crossbite; teeth on bottom sit outside top teeth when the mouth is closed
  • Receding chin or protruding jaw
  • Facial injury or congenital disabilities that misalign jaws
  • Unbalanced facial appearance
  • Inability to make lips meet without effort
  • Chronic mouth breathing with dry mouth
  • Sleep apnea, snoring, other breathing problems
How Does Orthognathic Surgery Work?

To start, an orthodontist or other professional will treat or recognize a problem and refer a patient to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

There may be one or more pre-surgery consultations with the patient. The orthognathic surgeon will review models and other information from the referring professional. The surgeon’s team will also conduct a complete examination that includes models, measurements, X-rays, and other diagnostic tools.

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will use the latest technology and imaging to show patients exactly how they will improve their bite and how the patient’s appearance will change after the surgery.

For example, CT scanning and software create a 3D model of a patient’s bone structure. This model helps the surgeon plan the surgery and enables the patient to visualize how their new jaw will move.

During the consults, the surgeon will also explain exactly what will happen in the patient’s specific surgery using imaging and software. They will also answer any questions about procedures, timing, follow-ups, after-care, and other concerns to ensure the patient has complete information and comfort about the procedure.

Orthognathic surgery is performed in a hospital using general anesthesia. Surgeries can take from two to five hours, depending on the specific procedure. Orthognathic surgeries are generally considered safe, but the surgeon will review any potential risks.

Pain will be well managed, and the patient will be cared for throughout and after their hospital visit.

Once they leave the hospital, there will be follow-up appointments with the orthognathic surgeon to ensure healthy healing. Most surgical incisions are made inside the mouth, so scarring on the face or chin is unlikely.

Mullica Hill Oral Surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Specialize in Relieving Jaw Pain and Problems

Problems with the jaw can cause pain and difficulty eating, talking, sleeping, speaking, and breathing. There is no need for anyone to suffer through jaw problems. The Mullica Hill oral surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons relieve patients of jaw discomfort from misalignment and other issues. Call us at 856-582-4222 or contact us online to make an appointment or schedule a free consultation. With offices in Washington Township, Haddonfield, and Woolwich Township, New Jersey, we are dedicated to helping patients throughout South Jersey.

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