Abnormalities of the upper jaw (maxilla), lower jaw (mandible), or both may result from a birth defect, growth defect, or traumatic injury. The correction needed to fix such abnormalities is referred to as orthognathic surgery.
An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon is usually responsible to perform orthognathic surgery. This process corrects malocclusion (bad bite) when routine orthodontic treatment is not effective.
Forms of Malocclusion:
Class I Occlusion: Occurs the lower anterior incisors sit behind the upper anterior incisors when the biting down.
Class II Malocclusion: Occurs when the lower anterior incisors lie drastically behind the upper anterior incisors during the biting process. Typically called an overbite.
Class III Malocclusion: Occurs when the lower anterior incisors and lower jaw are positioned beyond the upper teeth, making the lower jaw much more flagrant than the upper jaw. Typically called an underbite.
Reasons for orthognathic surgery:
If left untreated, malocclusion can cause serious damage and cause tooth wear, chronic jaw and muscle pain, headaches, loose teeth, tooth sensitivity and difficulty swallowing, chewing or biting.
What is the process of orthognathic surgery?
- First, the dentist conducts a photographic analysis.
- Prior to the surgery, patients are usually assigned to orthodontic braces. These align the arches and straighten the teeth.
- Retainers may be necessary after the surgery.
- The upper jaw is secured during maxillary surgery.
- Bone grafts are used during surgery on the mandible, in order to align the lower jaw into the correct position.