Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective Jaw Surgery

One third of Americans have significant misalignment of their teeth.

Most people can be treated with braces, but some misalignments are so severe that surgery is required. Our surgeons are some of the most experienced in western North Carolina in treating teens and adults with facial and jaw abnormalities.

What is corrective jaw surgery?

The size and position of your jaws dictate the position of your teeth. If your facial bones do not grow correctly, your teeth will not fit together properly. Abnormal facial growth can lead to upper or lower jaws that are too small, too large, or asymmetric.

Corrective jaw surgery is done to fix abnormally positioned upper or lower jaws. This treatment can dramatically improve your ability to chew, speak, or breathe. It can also have a significant impact on your appearance and confidence.

Dentist with patient explaining procedure

Am I a candidate for corrective jaw surgery?

Surgery may be contemplated when braces alone cannot fix your bite. Surgery is considered once you have reached physical maturity and your facial growth is complete. This is typically in your later teenage years, or as an adult.

Common conditions that may require intervention include:

Severe underbite: An underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes farther forward than the upper jaw. This can be due to an undersized upper jaw or excessive lower jaw growth.

Severe overbite: An overbite occurs when the upper jaw extends farther forward compared to the lower jaw. A small overbite can be normal but in severe cases can lead to significant chewing problems. A severe overbite is usually caused by an undersized lower jaw.

Open bite: An open bite occurs when your top and bottom teeth do not touch when your mouth is closed. This can make it hard to bite with your front teeth.

Uneven jaws: Uneven jaw growth can cause an asymmetry to occur. This can result in an uneven facial appearance, crooked jaws, and significant difficulty chewing.

Corrective Jaw Surgery before and after

What are the benefits of corrective jaw surgery?

  • Improve your ability to chew and eat
  • Improve your speech
  • Improve your ability to breathe
  • Potentially reduce jaw joint and muscle pain
  • Improve your appearance and confidence
Man enjoying a meal after surgery

What are the steps in treatment?

Evaluation

The initial consultation lets our providers get to know you, understand your concerns, and create a plan to achieve your goals. You should expect to discuss your medical history, any medications you take, and undergo a brief health review. Your surgeon will perform a physical exam and obtain any necessary x-rays, photographs, or study models. We will describe the surgical process, expected recovery, and answer any questions you may have.

Often medical insurance may cover a portion of your surgery. Our insurance coordinators will work with you to obtain prior authorization for any anticipated surgery. We are in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Pre-surgical Orthodontics

Your orthodontist and surgeon will work closely with you to come up with the best solution to realign your jaws and teeth. In preparation for surgery your orthodontist will place braces on your teeth. Your teeth will then be moved into position to match the new bite that you will have after surgery. This can temporarily make your bite seem worse. Braces may be required for 6-18 months before you are ready for surgery.

Surgery

Repositioning the upper or lower jaws requires precise planning and implementation. We use the latest 3D imaging technology to assess your facial bones and precisely plan the position of your jaws. Custom surgical guides are then fabricated to obtain more accurate outcomes with shorter surgery time.

Each surgery takes place at Mission Hospital under general anesthesia to maximize your comfort. Surgery is performed using incisions inside of your mouth so no facial scars are visible. Cuts are made in your upper or lower jaws, allowing them to be moved into the correct position. The bones are then held in place with small titanium plates and screws. Guiding elastics are used at the end of the case to help direct your teeth into your new bite.

Recovery

Most patients will stay in the hospital for 1-2 days after surgery and then go home. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you will likely go back to work or school after 2 weeks.

You will be limited to a very soft, no-chew diet for 6 weeks. This will initially consist of foods such as grits, yogurt, eggs, soups, and smoothies. Once cleared by your surgeon, you will eventually transition to foods that require slight chewing such as pancakes, well cooked pasta, or fish. After 6 weeks you can typically start to work towards a regular diet.

While you are healing you will need to avoid any strenuous physical activity. Most people will take the first 1-2 weeks to rest at home. When you feel comfortable you can resume some work or school activities. We ask that you do not participate in team sports or strenuous exercise until your facial bones are fully healed.

Post-surgical Orthodontics

Once your facial bones have healed, your orthodontist will move your teeth into your new bite. This final stage of treatment will help finalize the position of your teeth and perfect your new smile.

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