Jaw Surgery 101

Posted on: 19 October 2017

The human body is an amazing thing, but it isn't always a perfect thing. Sometimes, dental irregularities and skull anomalies occur that can affect the jaw. Sometimes, these issues require corrective intervention by dentists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Here is what you need to know.

What Kinds Of Problems Might Arise?

The lower jaw and upper jaw many not align properly, making chewing difficult or impossible. The palate, or the roof of the mouth, may not have developed probably in utero, causing problems as the child grows and their teeth begin coming in. Some people suffer from temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ), which can cheek and jaw pain as well as cause headaches. Birth defects may give the face a lopsided appearance. There may be a gross over- or underbite, which can make eating, talking, and swallowing difficult in addition to being cosmetically unsightly.  Even chronic sleep apnea or mouth breathing can be a result of jaw issues. Accidents may also result in needing jaw surgery.

What Are Common Treatment Options?

Surgery is the usual treatment option to repair jaw issues, but the specific treatment depends on the severity and location of the problem. In the case of a misaligned jaw where the teeth don't meet, allowing a patient to bite into things and chew properly, some of the upper jawbone where the teeth come down from the gums may be removed. Screws and plates are then inserted to keep the jaw aligned and pulled back into its new position.

For a protruding lower jaw, where the bottom teeth come forward of the upper teeth, a similar procedure is employed. The bone in the back of the jaw is separated from the front part of the jaw. It is then adjusted so the teeth are in the proper alignment with one another. A similar procedure is performed for people with a weak chin that interferes with eating.

What Should You Expect After Surgery?

Any surgery isn't fun, and like any surgical procedure, pain and discomfort should be expected. Your doctor will provide the appropriate pain medications to help you manage your discomfort.

Post-operative bleeding isn't uncommon; however, this usually isn't excessive. Depending on the procedure performed, you may also have nasal bleeding. Swelling of your face, jaw, and even neck is probably the most pronounced side effect of jaw surgery. Ice and medications will be used initially to reduce swelling, and then after a few days, a warm water bottle will be used instead. Both will also help alleviate pain. For more information, contact specialists like Snyder, Donald DDS.