FAQ's - Jaw Surgery
How is a person prepared for this surgery?
Your oral surgeon works to evaluate your problem and decide how to best move forward. The orthodontist's job is to determine how braces can prepare you for surgery which will be performed later by the surgeon. Before treatment begins, a complete history is taken and X-rays of your mouth and skull may be ordered. Casts are usually made of the teeth and photographs taken for later comparisons. Before any work is undertaken, you may be advised to visit your general dentist for a cleaning and to treat any other problem that you might have.
Before surgery can take place, braces will be positioned in your mouth by your orthodontist who will monitor your progress very carefully. The braces are usually worn for several months, but the time varies from individual to individual. When your orthodontist and surgeon have determined that your teeth have moved into the correct position, the surgery will be scheduled.
What happens during the surgery?
After entering the hospital, an anesthesiologist or nurse will describe what anesthesia will be used as well as the IV (intravenous) fluids and medications you will receive. This will help prevent dehydration and reduce pain and swelling. Immediately before surgery, you will be given a general anesthesia which will keep you asleep during the procedure.
The procedure used to correct your jaw problem will depend on the particular condition you have. Incisions are made within the mouth so that scars will not be visible. Often the jaw is sectioned and moved to the proper location and then fixated in place so that they don't move after the surgery is completed. Bones are kept from moving with specially designed plates and screws.
What will be the post surgerical condition in the hospital?
When you awake following surgery, you will probably be groggy and may experience some numbness in the treated area. Your face will appear swollen and you might experience some discomfort which pain relieving medication will help alleviate. Most of the swelling and numbness will subside gradually after a few weeks.
You will be given instructions on when to clean your teeth and how to take care of your mouth after the surgery is completed. You may be instructed to keep off work or school for two or more weeks. You will be advised to drink a lot of fluids in order to prevent dehydration and an initial diet of soft foods will be recommended. Facial exercises to help improve the flexibility of your jaw may be suggested.
Changes in your appearance may not be immediately noticeable because of swelling around the operated area. Gradually, as the swelling goes down slight to very dramatic changes may be apparent depending on the procedure.
What kind of follow-up care will I receive?
You will see your Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon soon after your surgery for a follow up visit. You may be wearing braces for a year or more after surgery which will require you to visit your orthodontist regularly. The orthodontists will make certain that your teeth are moving into the correct position by adjusting the braces. When the teeth are repositioned correctly, the braces will be removed; however, another appliance, a retainer or positioner may be recommended.
What are the risks and complications connected with orthognathic surgery?
Orthognathic surgery is performed very often with excellent results; however, all surgeries involve certain risks which your surgeon will discuss with you. Complications occur infrequently but can include a feeling of numbness or stiffness of the face for a certain period of time. Other complications that can occur include infection or a shifting of the bones or complications associated with anesthesia. These are not common occurrences; however, your surgeon will discuss them with you prior to surgery.