Orthognathic surgery

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Most people who have discrepancies between their jaw size and position can have orthodontic treatment to manage their poorly aligned teeth and bite. However, if you have a large discrepancy between the size of the jaws in relation to each other, or if the jaws are abnormally positioned in relation to the base of the skull, you may need orthognathic surgery which is also known as corrective jaw surgery.

Orthognathic surgery can help the jaw to function properly, create a more attractive appearance and reduce psychological stress.

Consultant oral surgeon with patient at a desk showing her xray

What causes a jaw discrepancy?

A jaw discrepancy can develop without a specific reason or it could be linked to hereditary factors.

It may happen as a result of a growth disturbance as a child for example, following a jaw fracture, a repair of a cleft lip or palate or it can be associated with a syndrome such as hemifacial microsomia.

Although a jaw discrepancy can be identified in young children, it usually becomes more pronounced in adolescents. By early adulthood, the abnormal jaw growth will have stopped and at this stage, treatment can take place to correct the discrepancy.

What happens during orthognathic surgery?

It may take several months to prepare for orthognathic surgery as you will need to have orthodontic treatment to correct any teeth misalignment to allow the jaws to be placed in the correct position.

On the day of surgery, you will be given a general anaesthetic. The surgeon will divide the jaws and reposition them using acrylic splints which have been created previously as a guide. The jaws are then fixed in place with plates and screws.

The procedure can take up to four hours and most of it takes place inside the mouth so scarring is kept to a minimum.

You may be in hospital for up to three days.

What are the possible complications of orthognathic surgery?

As with any surgery there is a risk of complications from orthognathic surgery.

These include:Nerve damage – you may feel a temporary numbness of the chin, tongue and gums due to ‘bruising’ of nerves in the jaw. The numbness can become permanent in a small minority of cases.

Damage to the teeth – the surface of the tooth can be damaged irreversibly if teeth aren’t cleaned properly or you have too many foods and drinks containing sugar and acid during your orthodontic treatment.

Relapse – in very rare cases, the teeth and jaws relapse and move back towards their original position after treatment. You may be given retainer braces to minimise this movement of the teeth.

How long will it take to recover from orthognathic surgery?

You will need to take up to four weeks off work and activities to recover following the surgery.

To be able to chew normally can take between two months to a year.

You will need further orthodontics to ensure your teeth are aligned correctly and this generally takes around six months.

Why choose Harley Street Specialist Hospital?

At Harley Street Specialist Hospital, you can expect:

  • Our team of expert oral and maxillofacial surgeons to offer rapid assessment and the latest treatments in comfortable central London surroundings, as well as video consultations from the comfort of your own home.
  • Holistic care, where you are an equal partner in the creation of your individualised treatment plan.
  • State of the art diagnostic imaging – you don’t need to go elsewhere as we have in house CBCT, X-ray, ultrasound and image intensifiers.
  • Day-case and outpatient investigations and surgical procedures in a modern clinical setting.
  • No waiting lists and your treatment can take place at a convenient time for you.

We welcome patients with private medical insurance or those wishing to pay for their own treatment.

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