Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic Surgery – “Surgery to create straight jaws” is the literal meaning of orthognathic surgery. It is usually undertaken to improve both the function and appearance of the upper and lower jaws, the teeth and the facial appearance as a whole. It is undertaken by a team consisting of a Consultant Orthodontist, along with a Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Sometimes other professionals need to be involved such as Psychiatrists, Dieticians and Speech and Language therapists.

Orthognathic treatment has been shown to improve oral function, improve both dental and facial appearance and improve health related quality of life. In some cases the results of jaw surgery can be enhanced with the addition of other procedures such as nose surgery (rhinoplasty), chin surgery (genioplasty), or the placement of facial implants.

What Causes jaw problems?

Large, small or asymmetric jaws may develop without a specific cause but often there is a genetic predisposition to uneven jaw size. Other causes include disturbance or jaw growth during development such as after a fracture of the jaw bone in childhood. Some children with specific conditions such as cleft lip and palate, or a syndrome known as hemifacial microsomia are more likely to require this type of treatment.

Usually jaw discrepancies are noted as children grow and becomes more marked at puberty. Usually treatment is undertaken towards the end of growth during late teenage years, although in some cases maybe started earlier. Jaw surgery before the end of growth runs the risk of needing repeating as growth can change jaw shape so your surgeon or orthodontist will delay starting orthodontic treatment until they feel you will be finished growing at the time of surgery.

Is there an upper age limit for treatment?

Adults can also undergo this type of treatment. This maybe indicated for a number of reasons:

They may of been unaware the treatment was available when they were younger and have functional problems with eating or with there occlusion (bite) teeth, or even wish to improve there appearance.

They may ned this treatment due to facial surgery for trauma or other head and neck pathology causing disturbances in the bite (occlusion).

Sometimes we see patients who have had previous camouflage surgery eg a chin implant, or orthodontics to hide a small jaw and who would also benefit from orthognathic surgery.