Jaw Surgery Before and After

Corrective jaw surgery is often performed to correct minor and major dental and skeletal irregularities, including the misalignment of teeth and jaws. This kind of surgery can improve breathing, speaking, chewing, or even your appearance. Jaw surgery can be a corrective option if you have moderate to severe jaw issues that cannot be resolved with orthodontics alone. So, before making your decision about whether or not to have the surgery done, let’s take a look at the effect of jaw surgery before and after.

Who Are Jaw Surgery For?

Jaw surgery is age-appropriate when growth stops, usually around 16-18 for males and 13-15 for females.Conditions that might indicate the need for jaw surgery include:

  • Facial injuries
  • Birth deformities
  • Unbalanced facial appearance
  • Receding lower jaw and chin
  • Protruding jaw
  • Open bite (a space between the lower and upper teeth when closing the mouth)
  • Inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • Difficulty biting or chewing food
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Chronic jaw pain and headaches
  • Excessive wearing of the teeth
  • Sleep apnea (breathing difficulties and snoring when sleeping)
  • Chronic mouth breathing

Your dentist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS), and orthodontist will consult together to determine if you are a possible candidate for jaw surgery. The OMS will determine which corrective surgical procedure is appropriate and will perform the actual surgery.

Jaw Surgery Procedure: What to Expect

Corrective jaw surgery may be performed in a surgical suite, under general anesthesia in a hospital, or an ambulatory surgical center, depending on the procedure. The time spent in surgery varies depending on the nature of the exact procedure performed, but normally takes from 1-4 hours to complete, and the average length of stay for a corrective jaw surgery before and after is 2 nights.

Upper Jaw

An upper jaw surgery (maxillary osteotomy) can be performed to correct issues such as open bite, cross bite, showing too little or too much or the teeth, or a significantly receded upper jaw.

With upper jaw surgery, the OMS cuts the bone from the inside of mouth below both eye sockets, and above the teeth so the entire top jaw, including the roof of your mouth and your upper teeth can move as a single unit. The upper teeth and jaw are moved forward and realigned with the lower teeth. After the jaw is repositioned, tiny plates and screws will hold the bone in the new position. The screws, which are very small, become integrated with the bone structure over time.

When excess bone grows above the molars, an open bite occurs. This causes a normally flat and even surface to become angled. When you try to bite down, the molars touch, but your front teeth do not, making the chewing process difficult. Your surgeon shaves away or removes the excess bone to remedy the problem.

Lower Jaw

A lower jaw surgery (maxillary osteotomy) can be performed to correct a significantly receded lower jaw. In this surgery, the OMS makes cuts lengthwise down the jawbone and behind the molars, so the front of the lower jaw can move as a single unit, resulting in the lower jaw sliding smoothly to its corrected position. The lower jawbone is held together with tiny screws until it has healed.

Chin Surgery

Chin surgery (genioplasty) often accompanies a severely receded lower jaw. A deficient chin can be typically fixed at the same time when surgery is performed on the lower jaw. The OMS cuts your chin bone and secures it in a corrected position. Typically, surgeons can alter the jaw and restructure the chin during the same jaw surgery. Before and after effects are quite evident.

Jaw Surgery Recovery

When the surgery is completed, bones that have been repositioned will begin the healing process in their new location. Full functionality of the jaw will not return for about 8 weeks for the bones fully heal. After the surgery, the following discomforts are to be expected:

  • Swelling: over the course of 3-5 days, trauma caused by the jaw surgery will cause a lot of swelling in the face.For most people, the swelling usually diminishes after 10 days. However, some may need as long as several months to recover.
  • Congestion: after surgery, and partly due to the traumatic swelling, most people will experience about a week of significant nasal and sinus congestion. However, some people may need a significantly longer period of time to get over the congestion.
  • Dietary changes: even though modern jaw surgery has freed people from the burdens of having their jaws wired shut, people will have to make dietary changes the first week following surgery. A diet of liquid or soft consistency will be necessary so that the healing bone is not further traumatized. Add to that the swelling, and people’s fear of moving their jaw too much, some tend to self-limit their diet to food that has been processed with a blender.
  • Activity limitations: any strenuous activity will be limited for at least 4 months. This includes any activity that may lead to injury to the face and jaw, such as weight lifting, contact sports, or activities that risk falling down or getting hit in the face.

After the orthodontist determines that the bones have stabilized, they can resume the proper alignment of the teeth for a perfect fit. You may be fitted with retainers to maintain the stability of the bone and bite. The total treatment time, on average, is between 18-24 months.

Jaw Surgery Before and After Effect

I had upper jaw surgery to address my open bite and cross bite on my right and left sides. Only my 2 front teeth would touch, which made chewing more difficult as I became an adult. It's been about a month and I still have complete numbness in the bottom of my nose, my lower lip and my chin. However, the realignment now allows most of my teeth to touch properly.

I first learned about genioplasty by going for an orthodontic consultation. The orthodontist recommended I see a surgeon for a chin implant, since there was an imbalance between my chin and nose that made my nose appear too large. I’m almost 6 months post-operation, but I’m happy to have had it done. This surgery is where you need a lot of patience with your healing process.

Here are more photos of jaw surgery before and after for you to compare: