When is Jaw Surgery Necessary?

An incorrect bite, or malocclusion, can develop when the upper and lower jaws grow and develop at different rates. This can lead to a number of problems, such as underbites or “gummy” smiles due to a disproportionate upper jaw.

When the teeth do not meet properly, a patient may suffer a number of adverse effects. Oral health may be compromised and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders may develop, causing the patient discomfort. The chewing mechanism will not be as effective and efficient. Of course, uneven patterns of jaw development can detract from the smile’s appearance and lead to a facial imbalance, as well.

To correct such issues, a patient may need to undergo a special type of oral surgery known as orthognathic surgery.

With this oral surgery procedure, excess bone may be removed from the upper or lower jaw, and the jaws can be moved into the proper position to improve the bite.

Orthognathic surgery is generally combined with orthodontic treatment. An oral surgeon and orthodontist will collaborate on the treatment plan to determine the optimal timing for the surgery. Often the orthodontist will initiate treatment with the patient, repositioning the teeth to a certain extent before the patient undergoes surgery.

After the surgery is performed and the patient has healed sufficiently, the orthodontist will continue to move the teeth into the desired locations.

Occasionally, orthodontic appliances can be used to correct minor malocclusions in younger patients whose jaws are still growing, but surgery is needed for more severe issues and in older patients in whom the jaw is already fully developed.

The oral surgeon will use three-dimensional imaging to plan for orthognathic surgery and to illustrate the potential outcomes to the patient.

Patients with a variety of conditions resulting from a malocclusion may benefit from orthognathic surgery. This procedure can address problems ranging from protruding jaws to open bites to severe snoring. If you feel that orthognathic surgery is appropriate in your case, schedule an evaluation with our team today. Contact the office of Drs. Richard Miller and Ross Sethman at 405-624-1300 for more information.

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