Flaws in jaws? Surgery can give you a better quality of life
March 10, 2018 | 8:40 PM
by Dr Dinesh Gopal
Orthodontic intervention and corrective jaw surgery repositions a misaligned jaw.

Orthognathic deformities are common and could range from mild to more complicated abnormalities requiring surgical correction. Jaw deformity happens when either the upper or the lower jaw or sometimes both jaws may not grow enough or end up growing too much, resulting in misalignment of the teeth of the two dental arches, especially in relation to the first molars. Also, jaw deformities may occur due to genetic factors, trauma, or as birth defects, such as cleft lip and cleft palate.

Who can benefit from surgery

A patient with jaw deformities can have problems speaking, chewing, swallowing, and even breathing. This misalignment can put unwanted pressure on your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and facial muscles, causing pain, degeneration, and jaw clicking. Moreover, jaw deformities or misalignment of teeth could have an impact on one’s appearance. In such scenarios, teeth are straightened with orthodontic intervention and corrective jaw surgery repositions a misaligned jaw. This can massively improve facial appearance, at the same time ensuring that teeth meet correctly and function properly.

The following conditions and symptoms may indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery:

  • Difficulty chewing or biting food
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic jaw or TMJ pain and headache
  • Excessive wear of the teeth
  • Open bite
  • Unbalanced facial appearance from the front or side
  • Facial injury or birth defects
  • Receding chin
  • Protruding jaw
  • Inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • Chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • Sleep apnoea

Usually, your family dentist can help you identify whether you would require a jaw correction and would typically refer you to either an orthodontist or an oral maxillofacial surgeon (OMS).

In some cases, they might even work together. For more complicated cases, an OMS will create a comprehensive corrective jaw surgical treatment customised to the patient’s case and will execute the actual surgery as well.

While drafting the treatment plan, the OMS will undertake a thorough evaluation to understand a patient’s medical history, facial proportions, and deformities related to jaw and teeth.

Here are three types of corrective surgery that can provide solutions to the above-mentioned problems:

Upper jaw (maxillary osteotomy)

This oral surgery corrects a cross-bite, significantly receded upper jaw, or open bite. During the procedure, the surgeon cuts the bone above teeth so that jaw and upper teeth can be moved forward until they fit properly with the lower teeth. Once the jaw is realigned, the surgeon places tiny screws and plates to hold the bone in its new position.

Lower jaw (mandibular osteotomy)

An oral surgeon can correct a significantly receded lower jaw by performing this procedure. During the surgery, the surgeon makes cuts behind the molars and lengthwise down the jawbone, so the jawbone can smoothly slide to its new position, where it’s held in place with screws until it heals.

Chin surgery (genioplasty)

A severely receded jaw can be fixed with this procedure, during which an oral surgeon cuts the chin bone and secures it in a new position. Oral surgeons can alter the jaw and restructure the chin during the same surgery.

What to expect post-surgery

As corrective jaw surgery is done to address minor to major skeletal and dental deformities; it is, therefore, important to understand that such treatment may include orthodontics before and after the surgery as part of the treatment plan and may take several years to complete.

But once the treatment is completed, patients can expect a massive improvement in their overall quality of life. They can expect improved and balanced facial appearance, enhanced teeth function, improved chewing, breathing, and swallowing. In today’s generation, no one needs to live with compromised, deformed, or misaligned jaws. With advancements in medical science, an OMS can align and straighten the jaw, thereby greatly enhancing the ability to eat and the way others see you.

Dr Dinesh Gopal is Consultant Oral Maxillofacial and Implantologist at Wassan Specialty Dental Center.

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