Orthognathic surgery describes the surgical procedures used to treat conditions which affect the jaw and face and are related to structure, growth, or other orthodontic issues that braces are unable to treat. Orthognathic surgery is also used to treat a number of congenital conditions like cleft palate by re-aligning and slicing the affected bones.
Orthognathic Surgery Procedure
In most cases, orthognathic surgery is performed under general anaesthetic, so you won't be conscious during the treatment. Before you have orthognathic surgery it's normal to be examined to make sure you're in good health. It's also usual to be prescribed certain dietary supplements or different exercises which can help to lessen the recovery period.
Depending on the extent of the surgery needed, the time the procedure takes to complete can range from one hour to several. If your lower jaw needs some adjustments, then your surgeon will begin by separating the jawbone's rear section, located at the rear of the teeth. This allows your surgeon to easily adjust the section of the jaw which supports your teeth.
If you're upper jaw is the target area, then using this process, it can also be lowered, raised or moved horizontally as required. In other cases the upper and lower jaw may need separating so that sections of bone can be extracted or added so that the right alignment is achieved.
Aftercare following Orthognathic Surgery
After your surgery, it's usual to experience some swelling around the lips and cheeks but this should be only temporary. As your body heals any swelling and bruising should gradually disappear. An overnight stay is often required in hospital and you'll be prescribed medication to help with any discomfort or pain after surgery.
To aid the healing process, you may have tiny screws implanted in your jaw to prevent it from moving. Similarly, in other cases wiring may be used to keep your jaw still. You'll need to stick to a liquid diet supplemented with vitamins and minerals while your jaw heals. Smoking should be avoided at all costs, not only will it increase the risk of complications but it can also lengthen the recovery period. Most doctors would advise against partaking in any strenuous activities for a few weeks after surgery.
If you carefully follow all aftercare advice, then it should take about six weeks for the initial recovery period to be completed. You'll need to have several follow up visits with your surgeon so that he can monitor your progress and later on, remove any screws or wires that were fixing your jaw in place. It's very important that you keep up a good oral hygiene regime as your mouth is at an increased risk of dental problems occurring during the recovery period.
Around eight weeks after surgery, you may need to have the position of your bite fine tuned by wearing braces for a few months. When treatment has completed, you'll still have to visit your surgeon to check your teeth aren't reverting to their former position.
Risks with Orthognathic Surgery
Despite the fact that most orthognathic surgery is carried out safely and effectively, as with all surgical procedures there are some risks involved. Swelling is the most common side effect of the surgery and while it will dissipate quickly for most patients, in some cases this can last much longer. Infection is perhaps the biggest risk of any surgical process so you'll need to carefully follow all aftercare advice and make sure to take all prescribed medications. In rare cases issues can occur with your sinus after surgery which may require more surgery to fix.