Jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, is often used to correct irregularities of the jaw bones and to realign the teeth and jaws to improve facial appearance. The idea of surgery to your jaw can be daunting, but arming yourself with knowledge of the procedure, how it’s performed, and the recovery process can help you feel more confident in your choice. Selecting an experienced Portland jaw surgeon who can guide you through the process and make the best medical recommendations for you is also essential.

When is Jaw Surgery Necessary?

Jaw surgery may help to:

  • Provide relief for obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Correct bite or jaw closure or fit issues.
  • Correct speech or swallowing issues.
  • Improve biting and chewing.
  • Correct facial imbalances such as overbites, small chins, underbites, and crossbites.
  • Relieve pain caused by joint disorders and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
  • Repair birth defects or facial injuries.
  • Minimize excessive wear of the teeth.
  • Allow the lips to more fully and comfortably close.

How is Jaw Surgery Performed?

Jaw surgery may also be performed in conjunction with orthodontic treatment to prepare your mouth and move the teeth for surgery. The jaw surgery is performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons and will generally take place in a hospital and requires a two to four day stay. Your surgeon can often perform the surgery inside your mouth so that there are no visible scars, but some small external incisions might be necessary as well. Your surgeon will make cuts to the jawbone and move the jaw into the proper place before securing the movement with tiny screws, bone plates, and wire and rubber bands.

In some cases, your doctor may need to add bone to your jaw. If necessary, your surgeon may transfer some bone from your hip, leg, or rib, and secure it to your jaw with bone plates and screws. In other cases, your doctor may reshape your jaw bone or chin.

Jaw Surgery Recovery

After surgery, your doctor may provide medications to manage your pain and instruct you on post-surgical care, including oral care, what you can eat, activity limitations, tobacco limitations, and work or school limitations. Initial healing generally takes about six weeks, but it may be 12 weeks before you are fully healed. After your full recovery, you may need additional orthodontic treatment and your oral or maxillofacial surgeon will work with your orthodontist to ensure the best results.

If you’re considering jaw surgery, be sure to consult an experienced Portland jaw surgeon and ask questions about outcomes for the surgery, your recovery time, and how your surgeon will perform your jaw surgery. You should feel comfortable knowing that you have selected a knowledgeable and skilled surgeon.