Once your oral surgeon informs you that reconstructive jaw surgery is a good treatment option for you, dozens of questions may spring to mind. Before you make your final decision, now is the perfect time to become an informed patient and gather the facts about this procedure. Here are answers to some of your most pressing questions:
Q: What exactly is reconstructive jaw surgery?
A: An oral surgeon performs reconstructive jaw surgery (also known as corrective jaw, or orthognathic, surgery) to correct a wide range of skeletal and dental irregularities, including the misalignment of jaws and teeth. The purpose of the procedure is to correct functional problems with chewing, speaking and breathing.
Q: How do you know if you need reconstructive jaw surgery?
A: You may need corrective jaw surgery if you suffer from one or more of the following conditions:
- Difficulties with biting or chewing food
- Difficulties with swallowing
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
- Excessive wear of the teeth
- Space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed (called “open bite”)
- Birth defects
- Traumatic facial injury
- Protruding jaw
- Inability to make lips meet without straining
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Breathing problems when sleeping (including snoring) called sleep apnea
Q: What’s involved with reconstructive jaw surgery—before and after?
A: Before your reconstructive jaw surgery, your oral surgeon will review your medical history and perform a thorough examination, which may include facial measurements, photographs, X-rays, dental impressions and a bite recording. After your surgery, it is important to drink adequate fluids to maintain proper nutrition. The initial healing phase is six weeks, but complete healing of the jaw takes between nine and 12 months.