If you’d like to straighten your teeth but have been told you need Jaw Surgery to get your desired result, you’re most likely wondering why. You may or may not have noticed that there is a discrepancy between your jaws? For ideal function, health and aesthetics your top and bottom jaw should fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. If your teeth are straightened without correcting the relationship between your jaws – you could be left in a much worse position than you are now.
Discrepancies between jaw size/position are relatively common and those individuals affected will usually have a malocclusion (poorly aligned teeth and bite) which mostly can be treated using orthodontics (braces) alone. However, a small proportion of individuals with severe jaw discrepancies can be affected in many ways:
1. Dental and facial appearance is severely compromised and this leads to high levels of psychological distress, affecting interpersonal relationships, confidence and quality of life.
2. Jaw function is compromised and this can result in:
• Difficulty eating certain foods in public because it cannot be done in a socially acceptable way
• Damage to the gums and palate due to a traumatic bite which may compromise the prognosis of the teeth
• Speech difficulties
Yes, fixed braces are used prior to jaw surgery because they allow the most accurate positioning of the teeth before the operation. Lingual fixed appliances can also be used in some cases, depending on severity and complexity. It is important your teeth are moved so that they will meet evenly after surgery. It is likely your bite may appear worse before surgery this is because the teeth will be moved to the position they need to be in once the jaws have been moved.
The braces stay in position during and after the operations for a number of months. During the operation, they help the surgeon to position the jaws evenly. After the operation, they help the orthodontist “fine tune” the bite with the aid of elastic bands.
No. Patients having jaw surgery used to have their teeth wired together for 6-8wks afterwards. This is now uncommon as small metal plates and screws are used to hold the bones together. These plates are on the surface of the bone beneath the skin and generally remain in place forever. Very rarely they are removed at a later date.
You will almost certainly look different, to some degree. However, it depends on how severe your jaw discrepancy is and how much movement of the jaws is needed. You should discuss this with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon/orthodontist.
It’s important that you find an orthodontist with experience in orthognathic treatment, with a good working relationship with an oral surgeon. Your treatment will be split between the two so it’s vital that your teeth are moved to the position your surgeon requires. If you’re having your treatment on the NHS then this will be arranged in the same department, however, only certain types of malocclusion meet the NHS acceptance criteria for treatment, so it’s sometimes necessary for Jaw Surgery to be done on a private basis. We’re very lucky to have Dr Clara Gibson at Orthodontic Gallery, her wealth of hospital and orthognathic experience means that we can offer our patients outstanding orthognathic orthodontics privately.