Orthognathic Surgery (Jaw Surgery)
Orthognathic surgery is needed when the top and bottom jaws don’t meet correctly and/or teeth don’t adequately fit within the jaw. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics, and corrective jaw surgery repositions a misaligned jaw. This not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly.
Who Needs Orthognathic Surgery?
People who can benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite, or jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a gradual process and in some instances, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that may affect chewing function, speech, or long-term oral health and appearance. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. Orthodontics alone can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved. Orthognathic surgery may be required for the jaws when repositioning is necessary.
Difficulty in the following areas should be evaluated:
- Difficulty in chewing, biting, or swallowing
- Speech problems
- Chronic jaw or TMJ pain
- Open bite
- Protruding jaw
- Breathing problems
Technology & Orthognathic Surgery
Dr. Kuhn uses modern computer-aided techniques and three-dimensional models to show you exactly how your surgery will be approached. Using comprehensive facial x-rays and computer video imaging, we can show you how your bite will be improved and even give you an idea of how you’ll look after surgery. This helps you understand the surgical process and the extent of the proposed treatment.
If you are a candidate for corrective jaw surgery, Dr. Kuhn will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist during your treatment. The actual surgery can move your teeth and jaws into a new position that results in a more attractive, functional, and healthy dental-facial relationship.
What to Expect
- Corrective jaw surgery is a significant intervention requiring many months of preparation.
- The surgery is performed in a hospital or outpatient surgery center.
- The hospital stay is usually overnight or as an outpatient. While many surgeons keep patients 2-3 days in the hospital, Dr. Kuhn‘s patients (99%) either are treated as outpatients or an overnight stay. The biggest reason Dr. Kuhn‘s patients have a shorter stay is the efficiency of the operations decreasing the operating time and anesthesia time. He has performed over 3000 orthognathic surgical procedures giving you a high degree of experience.
- Braces are used before, during and after surgery. Some patients are treated with removable aligners before and after surgery, but conventional braces are used during and 3-6 weeks following surgery.
- Patients typically may be off work/school from 7-14 days.
- Patients are on a non chewing diet for 6 weeks. Anything as soft as a banana, scrambled eggs, mac & cheese etc… can be eaten. You do not have to be on a liquid only diet.
- One fear of patients contemplating orthognathic surgery is having your teeth wired together. Patients are briefly wired together during the surgical procedure to set the jaws but after the small plates and screws fix the jaw in its final position the wires are removed. Dr. Kuhn has not wired anyone together in almost 30 years.
- Remember while orthognathic surgery is very predictable and successful, it is still a major surgical procedure. The first week after surgery requires some toughness and patience. You must remember this surgery is not magic, but by post op day 5 or 6 most see their energy level rise, swelling go down and are on their way to getting back into the flow of life again.
- Dr. Kuhn will cover all of your questions, discuss and demonstrate the surgical treatment as well as before and after care during your initial consultation.