Patients may need jaw correction or orthognathic surgery if their jaws and teeth don’t meet correctly. This can be caused by a number of reasons, like genetics, injury, or abnormal habits (thumb sucking, teeth grinding, etc). Our dentist, Dr. Erwin, can help diagnose and treat jaw problems. If you feel pain in your jaw, it’s important to treat it early on, so no further damage is inflicted.

What is Jaw Correction?

Jaw correction involves a surgical procedure performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) to correct misalignments of the jaw and teeth. The procedure used to correct the jaw is usually referred to as Orthognathic surgery or corrective jaw surgery.  Some of the more common issues corrected by this treatment are: those problems that cannot be easily treated with braces, problems related to growth and structure, TMJ disorders, sleep apnea, malocclusion problems and congenital conditions like cleft palate. To treat these problems, your OMS will re-align the jawbones and secure them with either screws or plates.

Facial appearance is one of the positive side effects of jaw correction, as many patients report dramatic enhancement. However, the primary purpose of orthognathic surgery is to correct functional problems like chewing, breathing, and speaking. It can also benefit your overall oral health by allowing your teeth to develop correctly and be cleaned without issues.

Are You A Candidate For Jaw Correction?

Only a doctor can determine if you are a candidate, but here are some of the conditions that may indicate the need for jaw correction:

If you suffer from one or more of these conditions, you should ask your dentist if jaw correction is a good option for you. Usually, your dentist, orthodontist and OMS will work together to determine whether you are a good candidate for corrective jaw surgery. After getting x-rays, and a physical examination of the mouth, your dental professionals will let you know whether corrective jaw surgery is beneficial for you.

Your OMS will ultimately determine which procedure is right for your individual condition and will perform the surgery. Patients should be aware that this is not a quick fix. Corrective jaw surgery is usually used in conjunction with orthodontics before and after surgery. The full procedure, including orthodontics, can take several years to complete.

The Procedure

Corrective jaw surgery is performed in a hospital and requires an overnight stay in most cases. The procedure is performed inside your mouth, so you should not have any facial scars. During the surgery, your doctor makes an incision, cuts into your jawbones and moves them into the ideal position. Once your jawbones have been carefully placed into proper alignment, screws and bone plates are used to secure them. Complete recovery from the procedure takes three to six weeks.

Braces are usually placed on teeth 9-18 months prior to surgery to level and align your teeth. About 6 months after your jaw heals sufficiently from your surgery, your orthodontic treatment is continued until your teeth reach their ideal position. The entire orthodontic process, including surgery, can take from 12 to 24 months.

In certain cases, bone may need to be added to jaw to correct problems with volume or density. Bone for this procedure is usually taken from your hip, leg or rib and is secured with temporary wires. If this procedure is required, it will add extra time onto your healing and recovery.

Recovery Process

After the operation, the face may be swollen for 36 – 48 hours, but it should improve in the following 2 – 3 weeks. Patients should allocate between 2 – 4 weeks off from their usual activities, like work or school, until they have fully recovered.

It can be difficult to eat solid foods post-surgery, so we recommend drinking and eating soft foods or liquids. Smoothies, juices, soups, stews, pudding, and even jello can be great options to eat. As the jaw heals, it will regain its normal functions, so you can begin incorporating regular foods back into your diet. Stay away from hard, chewy, sticky, or crunchy foods that could place undue pressure on the mouth.

Throughout the recovery process, it’s still important to maintain your oral hygiene regimen. Replace your regular brush with a soft bristle toothbrush and mouthwash to keep bacteria from damaging your teeth. Regular floss requires opening the mouth quite wide, so we recommend getting a floss pick or water pick to remove any debris from between the teeth.

Come To P. Vernon Erwin, DDS For All Your Biological Dental Needs

Here at P. Vernon Erwin, DDS, we take pride in providing services to support your dental and overall health for a healthier, happier life. If you live in the Glendale, CA area and beyond, come see us for cosmetic, holistic, restorative and general dentistry services. We believe in practicing the principles for healthful living, including Natural Hygiene principles and a dietary lifestyle to serve your total health needs. Call us for a consultation with Dr. Erwin and let us help you get back on track to a healthy smile today!