Jaw surgery and braces  

There are many reasons why someone might need jaw surgery (also known as orthognathic surgery) – to correct misaligned bites, significant facial asymmetry and potentially improve airway dimensions. But what actually happens? And when is it needed? Read on for more information. 

What is jaw surgery? 

Jaw or orthognathic surgery is a specific type of surgery that corrects and realigns the jaw bones, teeth and bite. It can also improve the overall look of a person’s face, making it appear more symmetrical.  

Who needs orthognathic surgery?  

Not everyone who has teeth or jaw issues will need corrective jaw surgery. Such procedures are usually indicated for people who have structural or cosmetic problems that can’t be fixed with orthodontic treatment alone. If you think you may need jaw surgery for either functional or cosmetic jaw surgery, speak to a trusted specialist orthodontist first to find out more.  

What happens during jaw surgery? 

Jaw surgery is performed at a hospital under general anaesthetic. Usually, jaw surgery can be completed inside the mouth – meaning there no visible scarring as a result. During orthognathic surgery, small and precise cuts are made in the jawbone. This allows your surgeon to move them into a better position. The bones are then held in position by small bone fixation plates and screws.  

Do I need braces before an orthognathic surgery?  

Most people will have braces before and after jaw surgery. This is to ensure your teeth and jaw are prepared and in the best position possible prior to surgery. Braces also help ensure healing occurs safely and proper jaw and tooth alignment is achieved post-surgery. 

How long after jaw surgery do braces come off?  

Your specialist orthodontist and surgeon will decide on a treatment plan and timing that suits your needs best – including how long you will need to wear braces after jaw surgery. Generally, this is about six to nine months after surgery. However, the overall orthodontic process, from start to finish, usually takes approximately 2 years in total. 

What is the best age for jaw surgery?  

While there is no set age, jaw surgery is generally best performed when a person’s bone is more mature or is past the teenage growth spurt. However, depending upon the individual case requirements, jaw surgery can be performed at an earlier or later stage of life too. 

Is jaw surgery high risk?  

No. Jaw surgery, when performed by a specialist oral or maxillofacial surgeon, is a safe and common procedure.  

Will jaw surgery change my face?  

Yes, jaw surgery can change the look and appearance of your face. This is because the jaw bones are usually cut and moved or placed in a new position, changing the foundation bones which are the scaffold for your facial profile and symmetry. How noticeable this change is usually depends on how significant the pre-treatment concern or problem is. 

How long is recovery from jaw surgery? 

The recovery time from jaw surgery will vary between individuals. But as a general rule, healing can take anywhere between six and 12 weeks. Talk to your specialist orthodontist for more information about your specific timeline. 

If you think you might need jaw surgery, or want to know more, please consult with a trusted, specialist orthodontist. If you’re ready to begin your orthodontic journey, you can find an orthodontist near you using our finder tool to search the ASO database for registered specialist orthodontists in your area. 

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