Orthognathic surgery is a specialist type of oral and maxillofacial surgery, usually carried out as part of orthodontic treatment. It usually involves the modification of the jaws in order to alter their alignment and position to improve both function and the appearance of the smile.
In order to achieve the best results, this course of action should be planned at the same time as orthodontics, as it requires a considerable commitment from patients because the modification of the teeth and jaw is often a slow process.
Taking round two years to complete, orthognathic treatment is very specific and consists of a number of stages – one being surgery. When the procedure has begun it is near-impossible to reverse the process or switch to non-surgical options.
For this reason, it is strongly recommended the original plan be completed once it has started and individuals should be fully aware that the course of action is a complex and time consuming process.
A combination of patient cooperation, accompanied by support from a dental professional, can meet the challenge of achieving correct occlusion and creating a more attractive smile.
Following an initial consultation, a treatment plan is produced for each individual which will be adhered to by every doctor involved in the process. It is of significant importance that the patient makes an absolute decision on having the orthognathic treatment as it is extremely difficult to reverse once it has begun.
During the early stages of the treatment, pearly whites are restored while at the same time useless teeth and the wisdom teeth are removed. Subsequently, this course of action lasts for between 18 and 24 months once the orthodontics is being carried out.
When the area is set, orthognathic surgery is performed on one or both jaws, followed by the final treatment, which lasts approximately six months.
Once the braces have been removed, certain pearly whites may receive restorations, crowns or dental implants. Following this, individuals are able to enjoy the improved quality of life brought about by an attractive smile and facial features.
Usually, this will depend on the actual surgery that is being performed and should be discussed with an orthodontist and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure patients are clear on the details.
Individuals are usually admitted to the ward the day before they undergo the procedure, which is normally carried out when they are asleep under a general anaesthetic.
Before the operation takes place, patients will require a period during which they will need to wear fixed braces.
The surgeon usually gains access to the bones inside the mouth through the gums and moves them into a new position with small metal plates and screws, which are left inside the bone.
In some cases, these plates are removed at a later date – meaning individuals will have to undergo another operation. The jaw is also maintained using a thin, clear plastic split that remains secured to the lower pearly whites for some weeks. Dissolving stitches are also utilised to neatly close up the gums.
The majority of orthognathic surgery is carried out within the mouth the only scars that remain afterwards are tiny white lines along the gum line.
As with any procedure performed under anaesthetic, individuals are likely to feel tired, swollen and sore around the affected area when they wake up after the operation.
Although great care is taken to protect the nerves running below the jaw, some parts of the face will feel numb.
Patients will be able to open their mouth as soon as they regain consciousness, but gentle elastic bands are used with the braces on the upper and lower pearly whites to guide them into position.
The face is likely to remain swollen for a number of days after the treatment is carried out, while some people may experience some bruising under their chin and perhaps on the neck.
In most cases, those who have undergone this course of action should be up and about within one or two days.
For a short while after the operation, individuals will find their face is swollen and some multicoloured bruising can be seen. As this goes down, patients will start to see improvement in their face.
Usually, members of the public are asked to spend between three and seven days in hospital, where they will be under expert supervision from specialists who will ensure everything is as it should be.
Following the procedure, it is vital for people to keep their mouth and braces as clean as possible in order to prevent infection. In most cases, individuals will be shown by their dental hygienist how to achieve this.
Elastic bands that hold the pearly whites in place in their new alignment will need to be replaced with new ones when the material loses its flexibility. Although this is carried out by a professional initially, patients are expected to do so themselves when they return home.
After leaving hospital, individuals may notice they are only able to consume small amounts of food for the first few months due to the unusual feeling inside the mouth. A dietician will advise them on how to prepare liquidised and small meals that are also nutritious.
During the month after the treatment is carried out, it is important for patients to visit their dentist on a weekly basis so their progress can be monitored and assessed. Following this, a check-up will take place between every three to six months.