Orthognathic surgery, also known as corrective jaw surgery, is a subspecialty of craniomaxillofacial surgery. The primary goal is to correct skeletal deformities that are primarily manifested with poor dental relationships. A simple way to understand this unique field of facial surgery is to imagine the face as three building blocks: forehead, upper jaw and lower jaw. Orthognathic surgery focuses on repositioning the upper and lower jaw blocks to be in a more harmonious position. A new position can allow the teeth to be in better alignment and create a more attractive profile.
Who Is a Candidate for Jaw Surgery?
In Dr. Marco Ellis’ plastic and reconstructive surgery practice, the trusted surgeon manages the care of a variety of patients who need jaw surgery. Dr. Ellis frequently consults with adults referred from orthodontists, who recognize that the dental malocclusion (e.g., over bite, under bite, open bite, crooked bite) cannot be treated with braces alone.
Dr. Ellis also treats patients who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea but have not had success through conservative management of the condition. Many patients continue to have poor-quality sleep despite undergoing palate or nasal surgery. An airway assistive device (e.g., CPAP or BiPAP) can offer some relief but is imperfect. Other potential reasons for corrective surgery include a history of trauma, history of cleft lip/ palate or a pediatric syndrome, and temporomandibular (TMJ) dysfunction.
The surgical process can vary from patient to patient, depending on severity. Patients routinely undergo a multidisciplinary approach that includes frequent collaboration between an orthodontist, primary dentist and craniofacial surgeon.
The planning phase includes use of 3D models, dental stone models and advanced software to determine the optimal position of the jaws. There may be an intermediate phase that requires placement of braces and adjustment of the teeth to optimize the surgical results. This phase can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.
Jaw surgery focuses on repositioning each jaw into a new, precise position. The procedure length ranges from one to five hours and includes a brief overnight stay in the hospital. Patients undergo additional supervision by their orthodontist to ensure aesthetic and stable results.