Having your jaw realigned surgically might sound dramatic and scary. However, it is also one of the best ways to deal with certain dental, facial, and jaw problems. Called orthognathic surgery, this procedure allows the surgeon to position your jaw more favorably in order to, first, alleviate a number of problems and, secondarily, to improve your overall facial appearance.
Orthognathic surgery is often preceded and/or followed by orthodontic care that also aligns your teeth. The result is often relief from discomfort and an improved facial appearance. But what are those problems that render jaw surgery a necessity? And what can a jaw surgeon do to alleviate them? Here is a look at some of the reasons you may need jaw surgery.
You may need jaw surgery to alleviate TMJ.
Temporomandibular joint syndrome, also known as TMJ, is a painful condition that affects the joints connecting the lower jaw and the skull. Often, TMJ presents with grinding of the teeth, headaches, pain with chewing, neck pain, clicking of the jaw, and more. Jaw surgery by an experienced jaw surgeon can correct TMJ, reducing pain, headaches, and the other problems associated with the condition. As a result, it can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life.
You may need jaw surgery to alleviate severe underbites and overbites.
If either the top or bottom jaw grows faster or more than the other jaw, you may end up with an overbite or an underbite. An overbite occurs when the top jaw and teeth protrude over the bottom. An underbite occurs when the bottom jaw and teeth protrude over the top. Underbites and overbites, when severe, can make it difficult to chew or even speak. In addition, they can make it difficult to properly clean the teeth, leading to problems such as tooth decay and bad breath.
Sometimes, orthodontic work can alleviate the problem by straightening the teeth. However, severe cases of overbite or underbite that do not respond to orthodontic treatment may require jaw surgery. During this surgery, the jaw surgeon will move the protruding jaw back into a normal position. This surgery can alleviate the discomfort caused by the overbite or underbite and restore the patient’s facial features.
You may need jaw surgery to fix birth defects and jaw injury.
Some patients present with jaws that have been malformed due to birth defects or that have become malformed because of injury to the jaw. These issues may affect the patient’s appearance, ability to breathe, eat, speak, or swallow, or may not leave sufficient room in the mouth for the teeth. Jaw surgery by an experienced jaw surgeon can correct the deformities and injuries and restore the jaw to its natural shape.
You may need jaw surgery to help with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is defined by on and off breathing throughout the night that is often accompanied by snoring. It can prevent patients from getting a full night of rest and leave them chronically exhausted. While often treated with a CPAP machine, sleep apnea can also be treated in some cases by jaw surgery. In these instances, a jaw surgeon will move the upper and lower jaws forward in order to make more room for the patient to breathe. When successful, this type of jaw surgery can alleviate sleep apnea and reduce the need for a CPAP machine.
You may need jaw surgery to stop the wearing down of your teeth.
If you grind your teeth frequently, you can end up with premature wearing of your teeth. Other problems, like bite issues, can also lead to wearing of the teeth. Over time, this wearing down of your teeth can lead to the loss of the tooth and even bone loss in your jaw. In some cases of extreme wearing of the teeth, jaw surgery can be used to correct the anatomical causes of the issue. By correcting the anatomical cause of the wearing, jaw surgery can stop the grinding and wearing down of the teeth and improve your chances of keeping your teeth and preventing long-term bone loss.
You may need jaw surgery to correct your bite.
Jaw surgery may also be required if you have what is called an open bite. An open bite occurs when the front teeth do not meet but the back teeth do. An open bite can make it difficult to eat or speak, and can lead to excessive wearing of the back teeth. A jaw surgeon can correct an open bite by moving the jaw, and therefore the teeth, back into a proper position. When the teeth meet appropriately, the problems caused by the open bite resolve.
Jaw surgery can be a good choice in any instance where you are suffering from difficulty eating, speaking, swallowing, or breathing thanks to the shape of your jaw. You may also require jaw surgery if orthodontic methods are ineffective. Orthognathic procedures can also be useful in alleviating headaches caused by jaw issues and in alleviating excessive wearing of the teeth. Your jaw surgeon can help you determine when jaw surgery is necessary, as well as provide you with the information you need to make the best choice for your situation.
If you need jaw surgery, you also need an experienced and compassionate oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Here at Heart of Texas Oral Surgery, we specialize in orthognathic surgeries of all kinds. We can help restore your jaw and facial features and alleviate related discomfort so you can have a comfortable, beautiful, and healthy smile for years to come.