Is Jaw Surgery Worth Taking the Risk?

Orthognathic surgery (OS), or jaw surgery, modifies the jawbones and re-aligns the dental arches. It addresses dental and major facial misalignments that can't be corrected with traditional braces and wires (orthodontics). The process often combines orthodontics and maxillofacial surgery to get the desired result.

Key takeaways:
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    Corrective jaw surgery is more than just a cosmetic operation. It corrects functional deficits caused by jaw misalignment to increase chewing capacity as well as improve breathing and talking.
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    Conditions that need jaw surgery must to be diagnosed by a professional.
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    Before getting the surgery, you must know the risks, benefits, and complications. If the benefits outweigh the risks, you may opt for it.
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    A team of professionals including an orthodontist, a maxillofacial surgeon, and an ENT specialist can help you to make the right decision.
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    Jaw surgery is undergoing drastic technology-based advances with the introduction of 3D CBCT imaging and digital planning.

While jaw surgery is undergoing significant technological advances, only some misaligned jaw needs corrective surgery. Knowing the long-term benefits and drawbacks can help in making the right decision. Read on to learn if you are the right candidate for jaw surgery.

Conditions that may require jaw surgery

Sometimes the upper and lower jaws grow at different rates, resulting in mismatched jaws that make eating difficult. Orthognathic surgery may be required if you have functional problems, like difficulty biting, eating, or swallowing (due to a smaller maxilla or mandible). Between 36% and 55% of adults undertake jaw surgery to correct this. However, conditions need professional evaluation and diagnosis, preferably by dental surgeons.

Other factors indicating that you might need a jaw surgery include the following:

  • A mismatch between the jawsin size and alignment. This can cause frequent jaw pain, headaches, and facial muscle soreness. These can become chronic and aggravate temporomandibular jaw disorders (TMJD). A dentist may recommend jaw surgery to treat TMJD based on the severity of symptoms;
  • Sleep apnea. A person with sleep apnea experiences snoring, sleeping, or breathing issues(a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea). According to research, corrective jaw surgery is an excellent therapy for obstructive sleep apnea;
  • Open bite. This is a condition when there is a space between the upper and lower teeth during chewing‐often impedes the ability to talk and chew. A person who suffers from a severe open bite may need corrective jaw surgery;
  • Injuries. Often face injuries leave behind a fractured and imbalanced jaw. Orthognathic surgery can be performed to repair jaw fractures and aesthetic jawline abnormalities;
  • Facial asymmetry. Correcting congenital facial asymmetry with jaw surgery is a growing trend.

Should you get a jaw surgery?

Every surgery comes with benefits. Here is a list of reasons why you should consider jaw surgery:

  • Function. Following jaw surgery, patients often report satisfaction and considerable functional benefits;
  • Overall health. Improvements in face aesthetics, psychological well-being, overall health, and pain regression- have also been noted across studies;
  • Jaw alignment. Corrective jaw surgery is usually permanent. Your orthodontist and surgeon will closely monitor your post-op progress to ensure that your teeth and jaw remain aligned while you heal.

Risks associated with the jaw surgery

As any other surgery, it comes with risks. Here is a list of the potential drawbacks related to a jaw surgery:

  • It's invasive. Jaw surgery is an invasive procedure done under general anesthesia. So you might need some time to recover from the hospital;
  • Post-surgery complications. Post-surgery infections, relapse, nerve, and sensory loss, TMJ issues, and dissatisfaction with the final result are the most often stated complications. Studies reveal that one in 10 persons suffer from post-surgical complications.
Patients must be thoroughly informed and aware of the potential of future adverse effects before consenting to orthognathic therapy. An orthodontist is the best person to guide you if you are considering jaw surgery. A dentist may refer you to a specialist team comprising a maxillofacial and ENT surgeon to arrive at a final decision.

Orthognathic surgery – the process:

Depending on your concerns, jaw surgery may entail surgery to your upper jaw (maxilla) or lower jaw (mandible), or a mix of both. Treatment regimens are tailored to the individual patient and can include a combination of orthodontic and surgical correction. Treatment can consist of three stages and can typically take two to three years:

  • Orthodontic therapy prior to surgery. This corrects incorrect tooth position;
  • Orthognathic surgery. This procedure involves the correction of the jaws;
  • Orthodontic therapy following surgery. This entails final tooth adjustments and prevents relapse.

Factors to consider before the jaw surgery

  • Investment. Jaw surgery involves time, effort, and patience;
  • Specialist. An orthodontist is the best person to guide you if you are considering jaw surgery;
  • Function. If you suffer from severe pain, discomfort, and functional problems for a long time, the surgery is worth it;
  • Procedure. The surgery is also worthy when jaw alignment can't be fixed with conventional braces.

What is the future for jaw surgeries?

The last decade has witnessed a drastic change in how jaw surgeries are done. Given significant technological advances, people opt for jaw surgeries more often than before. Three-dimensional imaging and computer-assisted surgical planning of orthognathic treatments are the most recent breakthroughs. A 3D digital planning (before the jaw surgery) now considered the gold standard aids in evaluating the need and prognosis of a case. Robot-assisted orthognathic surgery a combination of robotic technology and a navigation system is yet another recent addition to conventional jaw surgeries.


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