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6 Reasons for Jaw Surgery (and how to avoid it)

Orthodontist Talking with Patient
Jaw surgery, also known as oral surgery, focuses on the bones in your jaw. Usually the surgery realigns both your jaw and your teeth to make it easier to speak, eat, and even sleep. Jaw surgery can also improve the facial appearance, which includes a beautiful smile.

Often, jaw surgery is the last-choice option if there are skeletal discrepancies that need to be addressed. It’s not always necessary, but it is a permanent correction that enables your mouth to function and behave properly. 

While jaw surgery works, it’s still surgery. It requires actual cuts into your jawbones. It uses plates, screws, wires, and even rubber bands to set the cut bones in their new position. Risks include nerve injury and the need for additional surgery, plus, there’s the pain and swelling that happens while you heal. It’s a lot.

Age matters when it comes to jaw surgery.

Why you might need jaw surgery

Jaw surgery is primarily needed for for individuals who have already stopped growing, which includes older teens (age 16) all the way up to adults. Some of the reasons you may need jaw surgery include:

  1. Issues with biting, chewing, or swallowing
  2. Speech problems
  3. Teeth are experiencing excessive wear
  4. Bite issues and problems with TMJ
  5. Facial imbalance or facial injury
  6. Obstructive sleep apnea
Each of these issues usually direct back to how your teeth fit together, which means something isn’t aligning just right between your upper and lower jaw. 

Surgery can take between 2-4 hours, and you’re put under general anesthesia. Although cuts are made, most are done inside your mouth, so scarring isn’t a huge issue. Complete healing from your jaw surgery can take up to 12 weeks, and you may get temporarily put on diet and exercise restrictions. You’ll also need to take time off work/school.

Jaw surgery and braces

Although jaw surgery often provides you with a solution to your oral issue, it often doesn’t work alone. Most treatment plans can include braces both before and after. In addition, you will need retainers after the final round of braces to ensure teeth hold their position.

Suddenly, invasive jaw surgery isn’t as uncomplicated of a solution as you’d initially thought, right?

While the benefit is a functional occlusion, you’re still putting in a lot of time, and experiencing a lot of pain, to get your mouth in its best state. 

Aligners as an alternate treatment

Sometimes jaw surgery is a requirement, but the best way to mitigate the necessity for it is to get orthodontic treatment at the right age.  

In situations where you’re still growing, the treating clinician can help settle your bite into a proper occlusion through the right mechanics and orthodontic tools. With a strong commitment to compliance, and the support of your doctor, you may find that resolving the issue is possible with aligners.

This is because, for those whose mouths are still changing, the growth trajectory can be altered based on the skeletal discrepancy.  This is called dento-facial orthopedics. Aligners move teeth “a la carte” and focus on one tooth at a time, however, this is also a minimally invasive way to help a growth pattern at a younger age. 

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in some work. You must follow the orthodontic plan created by your dentist or orthodontist, which means wearing your aligners as often as required. You must make it to your appointments, and you must follow any additional requirements that are part of your plan.

Because of the advancements in orthodontic aligners, and what dentists and orthodontists know about the connection between teeth positioning and jaw issues, opting into surgery is a component of age, and is usually saved for extreme cases where braces or aligners alone can’t remedy the problem.


How ODO approaches treating your jaw


For an aligner-based treatment plan, talk to your Dentist about On Demand Orthodontist. This program allows dentists to facilitate your aligner treatment in a way that enables remote monitoring. You’ll have fewer visits to the dentist’s office without sacrificing the quality of your care. 

This comprehensive program provides concierge-level support along with all the materials and supplies necessary for any dentist to add aligner treatment into their list of available services. Your dentist can contact us today for more information.

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