Corrective Jaw (Orthognathic) Surgery – Introduction

June 22, 2013 by Dr. Ng HW

Corrective jaw, or orthognathic, is a surgery performed by the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons aimed to correct wide range of skeletal irregularities that cause disharmony in teeth and facial facial appearance; as well as interfering speaking and reduce chewing efficiency, and worst of all, obstruct breathing. Beside enhancing patient’s appearance dramatically, orthognathic surgery is also performed to correct functional problems.

Following are some of the conditions that may indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery:
a) Disharmony in facial appearance:

  • too long/short lower jaw
  • too long/short upper jaw
  • imbalance or canting of the jaw
  • gummy smile
  • open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
  • inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • receding chin

Upper jaw too long, lower jaw short
Upper jaw too long, lower jaw short

Lower jaw too long, upper jaw short
Lower jaw too long, upper jaw short

Gummy smile - alot of gum shown when smiling or at rest
Gummy smile – a lot of gum shown when smiling or at rest

Anterior bite - A space between the upper and lower incisor
Anterior bite – A space between the upper and lower incisors

b) Other reasons:

  • difficulty chewing, or biting food
  • difficulty swallowing
  • chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
  • excessive wear of the teeth
  • unbalanced facial appearance from the front, or side
  • facial injury or birth defects
  • chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)


Who Needs Corrective Jaw Surgery?

People who may benefit from corrective jaw surgery include those with an improper bite resulting from misaligned teeth and/or jaws. In some cases, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. Injuries and birth defects may also affect jaw alignment. While orthodontics can usually correct bite, or “occlusion,” problems when only the teeth are misaligned, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary to correct misalignment of the jaws.

Evaluating Your Need for Corrective Jaw Surgery

General Dentist will check on you first. He/she will first make sure your teeth and gums are all healthy. Then, he/she will usually referred you to a specialist team which consist of Orthodontist and Oral & maxillofacial Surgeon. They will work together to determine what causes your jaw to be mal-alignment:- whether it is due to the lower jaw elongation or the upper jaw fall sort, or maybe both jaw at the same time has some discrepancy. Then, they will evaluate whether you are a suitable candidate for corrective jaw, or orthognathic surgery. The team usually will look into your expectation, what really you want to achieve, because this surgery will make changes to your jaw as well as the whole face generally. It will also has some impact on the psychological aspect of a person!!
The orthodontist will be the person to correct your teeth prior to the surgery. He will determines the orthodontic movement; straighten and level your teeth according to their respective jaw (dental de-compensation) before the surgery which will last about a year or two. As the treatment progress, the condition of the teeth look worse but that is how the teeth should be placed in relation to their jaw.
The oral and maxillofacial surgeon determines which corrective jaw surgical procedure is appropriate and performs the actual surgery. He will plan for you the surgery; whether involves only a jaw, or maybe both jaws or maybe including the chin as well. He will execute the plan after the brace treatment is ready for surgery. It is important to understand that your treatment, which will probably include orthodontics before and after surgery, may take several years to complete. Your Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and orthodontist understand that this is a long-term commitment for you and your family.They will try to realistically estimate the time required for your treatment.
Corrective jaw surgery may reposition all or part of the upper jaw, lower jaw and chin. When you are fully informed about your case and your treatment options, you and your dental team will determine the course of treatment that is best for you.

Enjoy the Benefits

Corrective jaw surgery moves your teeth and jaws into positions that are more balanced, functional andhealthy. Although the goal of this surgery is to improve your bite and function, some patients also experienceenhancements to their appearance and speech. The results of corrective jaw surgery can have a dramaticand positive effect on many aspects of your life. So make the most of the new you!

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