There are multiple reasons jaw, or orthognathic, surgery may be needed:
- To correct a misaligned jaw
- To repair damage from trauma or degenerative disease
- For treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
The jaw is made up of two bones, the maxilla (upper jaw) and the mandible (lower jaw).
Common jaw deformities are class II occlusion (the mandible is too short) and class III (the mandible is too long).
Deformity, misalignment, or damage to the jaw bones can cause pain, headaches, TMJ dysfunction, difficulty chewing, snoring, or even annoying sounds like clicking when talking or eating. Surgery is often used to correct these issues.
Types of Jaw Surgery
Dr. Green performs the following surgical procedures:
- Lefort I maxillary osteotomy – move the upper jaw in the desired direction.
- Bilateral sagittal split mandibular osteotomy – move the lower jaw in the desired direction.
- Genioplasty – augment or decrease the appearance of the chin.
Often, both jaw surgeries are required to fix deformities because most of the time, both jaws are affected. The upper and lower jaws can both be moved in multiple directions to correct the deformities.
Sleep Apnea Jaw Surgery
Snoring caused by sleep apnea isn’t just an annoyance, it’s a potentially fatal condition that requires treatment using a CPAP machine to keep the patient breathing while sleeping.
Dr. Green offers a surgical option for sleep apnea sufferers who don’t want to use CPAP or aren’t a good candidate for less invasive options like the Pillar Procedure.
The extent of surgery depends on your personal case. Some people require major surgery to fix the problem, while others may only need minor movements of the jaw.
Facial Trauma and Disease
Accidents or other types of traumatic injury to the jaw can cause changes in appearance or difficulty chewing. Dr. Green repairs the jaw and other facial bones to correct damage caused by trauma.
Degenerative changes from arthritis or autoimmune disease can damage the mandibular joint, requiring repair. This type of jaw surgery is only performed once the disease process is finished. Dr. Green will work with your physician to determine when surgery is recommended.
All jaw surgery is performed under general anesthesia at either at Medical City Alliance or Texas Health Harris Methodist hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Most patients stay one night after surgery.
Recovery Time after Jaw Surgery
Generally, you need a week off from school or work to recuperate. You will be on a full liquid diet for 4-6 weeks and not be allowed to chew anything during that time.
You will receive pre- and post-op instructions at your pre-surgical consultation.
Will my mouth be wired shut?
If the maxilla must be widened, your mouth may be wired shut, either completely or partially, for 2-4 weeks. This isn’t painful but it can be annoying.
Is Jaw Surgery Dangerous?
Like all surgical procedures, there are risks of complications with jaw surgery.
- Numbness of the upper and lower lips – this is common after orthognathic surgery and may persist for up to a year. It is rarely permanent, but sometimes the inferior alveolar nerve in the mandible sustains irreparable damage and the numbness is permanent.
- Mandible fracture – this can occur during or immediately after surgery and can be repaired.
- Infection – easily treated with antibiotics.
- Severe bleeding – usually well-controlled and managed during surgery.
- Hardware failure – medical grade titanium is used to hold the broken or cut bones in place. Sometimes the plates develop infections around them and must be removed, requiring additional surgery.
We understand that major surgery and the risks involved can be scary. If you are concerned about complications, please discuss these with Dr. Green during your consultation. He will answer your questions so you feel comfortable with your decision. Most consultations last approximately an hour so you have plenty of time to discuss your concerns.
If you have difficulty chewing or are suffering from jaw pain or sleep apnea, please contact us for a consultation to see if a surgical option is right for you. Phone us at (817) 237-7557 to schedule an appointment. Second opinion appointments are always welcome.
We accept most dental insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid, and CareCredit. See our financing options page for more information.
Jaw image By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (Bartleby.com): Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 995, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=566934