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Your jaw has two parts: the upper jaw (maxilla) and the lower jaw (mandible). Jaws often become misaligned during childhood. Jaw bone misalignment can result in crooked teeth and an 'off bite.'
Orthognathic surgery, also called corrective jaw surgery, may be necessary to straighten misaligned jaws.
Children might undergo orthodontic treatment before and/or after jaw surgery. This depends on the type of jaw misalignment they have.
Jaw irregularities are usually genetic. They can also arise from childhood habits like thumb sucking and mouth breathing.
Some examples of bite issues that may require surgery include:
Other indicators for jaw surgery include:
Children are typically the best candidates for corrective jaw surgery. This is because their jaws aren't fully developed. If caught early, jaw disorders might be fixable with just orthodontic treatment.
Once the jaw fully develops in adulthood, treatment options for severe misalignment are limited. An orthodontist may recommend jaw surgery at this stage.
The cost of jaw surgery ranges from $3,000 to $80,000. Surgery to correct temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) can cost up to $50,000.
Many factors influence the cost of jaw surgery, including:
Orthognathic surgery may be covered by health insurance.
Some insurance companies may consider corrective jaw surgery medically necessary. A surgical procedure may be deemed necessary when the skeletal irregularities cause:
Insurance may also cover jaw surgery to treat facial injuries or congenital jaw deformities. Jaw surgery is considered cosmetic if it's elective and only improves your facial appearance.
The total cost of jaw surgery includes various fees. Typically, the cost of orthognathic surgery consists of:
Many people need braces before and/or after jaw surgery. Braces help achieve and maintain proper alignment of the teeth. After the braces come off, a retainer is necessary to prevent the teeth from shifting.
The cost of braces varies based on the type:
People who pay out-of-pocket, also called self-pay, may be able to negotiate a discounted rate for jaw surgery. Surgeons often offer discounts and financing options to self-paying patients.
There are a few types of jaw surgery available. Depending on the severity of misalignment and jaw positioning, you may need:
Maxillary osteotomy surgery corrects the position of the upper jaw. During the procedure, an oral surgeon makes an incision in the gums.
The surgeon cuts, breaks, and moves the upper jaw into the correct position. Then they attach a small plastic wafer to the teeth. The wafer helps align the upper jaw. The jaw is fixed in place with titanium screws and metal plates.
Upper jaw surgery can correct an overbite, crossbite, and open bite.
Mandibular osteotomy surgery, or lower jaw surgery, corrects the position of the lower jaw. It's commonly used to fix a severe underbite.
During the procedure, an oral surgeon moves the lower jawbone. Depending on the patient's bite alignment, they may move it forward or backward.
Genioplasties correct severely receded chins.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) causes severe pain in the jaw and muscles that control jaw movement.
An arthroplasty or arthrocentesis surgery may be used to correct TMD:
An open-joint arthroplasty (keyhole surgery) is a common operation to correct TMD.
An arthroscope (small camera) is inserted into a small incision in front of the ear. Then scar tissue surrounding the joint is removed to relieve pain.
Arthrocentesis uses sterile fluid to wash out the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and so remove any debris inside the joint.
After the surgery, most people can return home the following day. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the bones to heal fully.
The recovery timeline for jaw surgery is as follows:
General anesthesia is administered before the procedure. This ensures you won't feel anything during the operation.
After you wake up, your upper lip, gums, and jaw will be numb for a few hours. You also can't drive a car for 48 hours post-op.
Some people experience numbness for months following surgery. This is because the nerves are cut during the procedure and require time to re-grow.
Jaw surgery is generally safe. But all invasive surgeries come with risks.
Some possible jaw surgery complications include:
For the first few weeks after surgery, your diet should consist of soft foods only. This includes soup, smoothies, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.
You can eat normally once your jaw heals completely. Your surgeon will let you know when it's time.
If your dentist recommends jaw surgery, it's essential to follow their instructions.
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