Understanding Jaw Surgery

Understanding Jaw Surgery

Corrective jaw, or orthognathic, surgery is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMFS) to correct a wide range of dento-facial deformities, including the misalignment of the face, jaws and teeth. This type of surgery affords patients functional improvements with chewing, speaking and breathing. At the same time, facial esthetics and overall appearance may be dramatically enhanced as a result of this surgery. Together, the functional and esthetic improvements lead to increased patient confidence and a significant subjective improvement in the overall quality of life.

Following are some of the conditions that may indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery:

  • Difficulty chewing, or biting food
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
  • Excessive wear of the teeth
  • Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
  • Unbalanced facial appearance from the front, or side
  • Facial injury
  • Birth defects
  • Receding lower jaw and chin
  • Protruding jaw
  • Inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)

Your dentist, orthodontist and OMS will work together to determine whether you are a candidate for corrective jaw, or orthognathic, surgery. The OMS determines which corrective jaw surgical procedure is appropriate and performs the actual surgery. It is important to understand that your treatment, which will probably include orthodontics before and after surgery, may take several months to a couple of years to complete.

Your OMFS surgeon and orthodontist understand that this is a long-term commitment for you and your family, and will try to realistically estimate the time required for your treatment.

Pictured here are pre- and post-operative photos of a patient who underwent simultaneous maxillary (upper), mandibular (lower) and genioplasty (chin) surgery with Dr. McGuire of Argyle Associates. She had this to say about her experience with the surgery:

“I had always imagined myself with a more pronounced chin, a stronger profile that would make me proud. To have jaw surgery was a decision I made confidently after receiving two referrals, both recommending Dr. McGuire at Argyle Associates.

“I was initially overwhelmed at the thought of having to go through orthodontics again at the age of 28. My worries were put at ease after discussion with Dr. McGuire. He described what had to be done, and what the process would be like for my specific situation. I was also put in touch with a former patient of his who had a similar procedure to discuss his experience.

“It was going to be major surgery, but I was told to keep my eye on the prize, post-op. Surgery went extremely well with Dr. McGuire and his team. It’s always nice to see a smiling face and one that drops a joke or two before he reconstructs your face during a 3+ hour surgery. The level of care was beyond my expectations, especially while I was adapting to life after surgery. To see the happiness on Dr. McGuire’s face at my one week post-op appointment was priceless, especially after the difficult week I had living on clear liquids. He was so impressed with his work, which happened to be my new face.

My recovery continues to progress (now 6 months post-op!) with continued support from Dr. McGuire. I don’t feel different at all, still the same old me, but with more confidence and swagger.”