When is orthognathic (jaw) surgery necessary?
Patients often enter orthodontic treatment with dual goals of enhancing the smile’s appearance as well as improving the way the upper and lower jaw fit together to form the bite. However, braces alone are sometimes insufficient for achieving those goals when a skeletal deficiency is also present.
When orthodontic treatment does not completely correct the problems with the alignment of the teeth, jaw surgery in the Chicago Loop can be used as part of a comprehensive approach to address a variety of patients’ issues. Jaw surgery is also known as orthognathic surgery (orthognathic means “straight jaws”), and many oral surgeons will use the two terms interchangeably.
Jaw surgery may be necessary to correct a variety of abnormalities. If the patient has an open bite, in which space remains between the jaws even when the mouth is closed, surgery may be required. Additionally, a pronounced underbite or a recessed lower jaw can also be fixed through surgery. It may also be necessary to surgically reposition the lateral placement of the jaws in patients whose jaws are skewed to one side of the face.
Orthognathic surgery is typically performed in either a hospital or a dedicated surgical center. The patient is placed under full general anesthesia, and the surgery can last as many as 4-6 hours in complex cases. The dual-degreed oral surgeon will need to hold the jaw in place using plates and screws (rigid fixation) to ensure that the jaw does not shift during the healing process. Sometimes the jaws need to be wired closed for a short period of time depending on the complexity and stability of the case.
If orthognathic surgery is recommended in your case, it is important to consult with a dual-degreed oral surgeon. Without surgery, you may continue to have chewing problems or obstructions of the airway even after you have completed orthodontic treatment. When orthognathic surgery is indicated, you would also be unlikely to get the full aesthetic and functional benefits using only orthodontia.
When beginning your treatment, ask your orthodontist if you will also need to consult with an oral surgeon. If you are a candidate for orthognathic surgery, Dr. Steven Koos, a dual-degree oral surgeon serving the Chicago Loop, will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist to ensure that your overall course of treatment stays on track.