Orthognathic Surgery, Corrective Jaw Surgery in Denver

Orthodontist Serving Denver, Cherry Creek, Stapleton & Nearby Areas Of Colorado

Corrective jaw surgery – also called orthognathic surgery – exists to repair certain functional problems; however, it also improves the facial profile and overall facial appearance of most patients. At Advanced Orthodontic Care, Dr. Robert Rudman may recommend orthognathic surgery in conjunction with braces, if you have certain jaw and teeth abnormalities and misalignment.

Big smile

What is Orthognathic Surgery?

This procedure surgically corrects abnormalities of the jaws and teeth. Depending on the specific problems, these abnormalities may lead to difficulty with:

  • Chewing and biting
  • Breathing
  • Speaking
  • Swallowing
  • Smiling
  • Sleeping

A person with jaw misalignment may have an asymmetrical facial shape. They may have teeth that are unevenly worn down, and they may experience pain and soreness around the jaw joints.

There are other potential issues. If your jaw alignment is abnormal, you may find that you breathe with your mouth open often or always, and find you cannot breathe through your nose alone. Your lower jaw may look recessed or it may protrude too far beyond the upper jaw. You may find it difficult to bring your upper and lower lips together. Jaw abnormalities may also lead to sleep apnea, a disorder in which the airway collapses on itself during sleep, causing you to gasp for air and awaken multiple times throughout the night.

Although this type of approach may take a year or more to complete, it is well-worth it to most patients. Not only does it repair the issues listed above, but it also improves the appearance of your face. Both in profile and from straight-on, your facial appearance will likely be more pleasing to you after orthognathic surgery. When the jaws and teeth are properly aligned, it has a dramatic effect on the balance and proportions of the face. Your jaws and related bones are the supportive structure beneath the skin – when they are aligned, it shows from the inside out.

How to Find Out if You Need Corrective Jaw Surgery

The only way to know for sure is to arrange a consultation with Dr. Rudman in Denver. Most orthognathic surgical cases are referred to an experienced Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, who works collaboratively with Dr. Rudman to achieve your best bite and smile. In most situations, braces may be worn prior to jaw surgery, and then again after jaw surgery is complete.

Jaw surgery is most often recommended only for those patients whose jaws have stopped developing. Therefore, the youngest teens and children may get alternative recommendations for guiding jaw growth, such as early intervention orthodontics.

Most people are very happy with the results. Your lower face will look more balanced and you should have vastly improved teeth function. You'll also find your sleep and breathing improves, if those were problems for you prior to jaw surgery.

Learn More About Improving Your Bite

Dr. Robert Rudman is an experienced orthodontist who is passionate about achieving great results for his patients. He has been practicing in Colorado for decades. He established our practice in 1999. Give us a call in Cherry Creek to learn more, at 303-331-0222. When you visit Dr. Rudman for a consultation, he'll examine your teeth and mouth. We may take x-rays to get a detailed look at alignment. He'll determine whether braces alone can align your bite or teeth, or whether orthognathic surgery may be beneficial.

What are the benefits of orthognathic surgery?

Orthognathic surgery offers a wide variety of functional and cosmetic benefits. It may help to:

  • Make it easier to bite and chew
  • Fix issues related to speaking or swallowing
  • Limit undue dental wear and tooth breakdown
  • Enhance facial symmetry
  • Improve the ability of the lips and jaw to close properly
  • Correct bite issues
  • Alleviate painful TMJ symptoms and other jaw issues
  • Relieve obstructive sleep apnea

The specific benefits that you can expect depend on your indications for having surgery. In general, jaw surgery patients can anticipate an improvement in the way that their jaws and teeth work and potentially an enhanced facial appearance. Dr. Rudman will partner with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon to explain the advantages you are likely to experience. 

orthognathic surgery, correction of human mandible deformity, before and after, side view. 3D Rendering

What Types of Misalignments Require Surgery?

There are many different types of misalignments that might require oral surgery. Some of the most common include:

  • An overcrowded mouth
  • A malocclusion
  • A cleft palate or cleft lip
  • An impacted tooth

If you have any of these concerns and issues, you may need oral surgery to correct the problem. Dr. Robert Rudman  of Advanced Orthodontic Care can tell you if you need surgery and what type of procedural approach would be best for your particular situation.

How Does the Surgeon Know Exactly Where To Reposition the Jaws?

Our surgeons can determine where to reposition the jaws in a few different ways. One of the most common methods is with the use of x-rays and photographs. This helps the surgeon get a clear picture of the jawbone and teeth so they can see exactly where movement is needed.

Another method that the surgeon might use is CT scanning. This gives the surgeon a three-dimensional image of the mouth to see precisely how the jaws need to be moved.

How Does the Jaw Stay In Its New, Corrected Position?

A woman smiling with her hands under her chin after healing from orthognathic surgery

After the jaws have been repositioned, they need to be held in place to heal correctly. This might be achieved with the help of braces, wires, or other types of fixation devices. These devices will need to be worn for some time after the surgery. In some cases, the surgeon may also use screws or plates to help hold the jaws in place. These will typically need to be removed after a few months.

How Do I Eat if My Jaws Are Wired Together After Surgery?

You must eat a soft diet if your jaws are wired together after surgery. This means avoiding hard, crunchy, or chewy foods. You should also avoid sticky foods that might pull at the wires. Instead, focus on eating soft foods that can be easily mashed or cut into small pieces. Soups, stews, and pureed fruits and vegetables are all excellent options. You can also eat soft meats that have been cooked until they are very tender.

Do I Have To Be a Certain Age To Have Orthognathic Surgery?

There is no specific age requirement for orthognathic surgery at Advanced Orthodontic Care. However, it is usually recommended for patients who have finished their growth spurts. This means teenagers and young adults are generally the best candidates for this surgery. In some cases, though, older adults may also benefit from orthognathic surgery. If you are considering orthognathic surgery, be sure to talk to your dentist about whether or not it is right for you.

Will Orthognathic Surgery Change My Appearance?

Orthognathic surgery can change your appearance, but the extent of the change will depend on the specific procedure that is being done. In general, patients can expect their faces to look more symmetrical and balanced after surgery. This can lead to an overall improvement in the appearance of the face.

A man smiling after orthognathic surgery

How should I prepare for orthognathic surgery?

Most people prepare for orthognathic surgery by wearing braces. Braces help straighten the teeth and improve alignment issues. It is much easier for an oral surgeon to perform jaw surgery when the teeth are already in the healthiest position that orthodontics can achieve.

You will receive complete pre-operative instructions as your surgical date approaches. You may be instructed to take or stop taking certain medications. You may also be asked not to eat or drink anything before surgery.

Maintaining good oral habits will go a long way to set you up for success during this time. In addition, remember to stock up on liquids and soft foods and arrange for a ride home in advance to ensure a smooth, stress-free recovery.

How long is orthognathic surgery?

Orthognathic surgery typically lasts between one to four hours. The time it takes to complete your procedure will depend on your unique treatment plan.

Complex diagnoses and cases in which both the upper and lower jaws require repositioning tend to involve a longer surgical time. You will learn more about the estimated length of your surgery when you meet with Dr. Rudman and your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. 

Is orthognathic surgery painful?

You will be under general anesthesia during orthognathic surgery and will not feel any pain. After surgery, you will be given medicine to minimize swelling and ease any soreness.

Some discomfort is to be expected during the healing and recovery process. An effective pain management protocol will be in place to make your experience as comfortable as possible.

Recovery after orthognathic surgery

You may need to stay in the hospital for two to five days after orthognathic surgery. Some people can be discharged on the same day without an overnight stay if certain criteria are met.

It is common to take one to three weeks off work or school. Initial jaw healing generally takes about six weeks. Full healing may take up to three months.

You will receive detailed post-operative instruction regarding:

  • Food restrictions
  • Oral care
  • Activity restrictions
  • Medication schedules
  • Return to activity

Is orthognathic surgery safe? What are the risks?

Jaw surgery is typically safe when performed by a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in collaboration with an experienced orthodontist. However, that does not mean that it is completely without risk. All surgeries carry some inherent risks.

Risks of orthognathic surgery may include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve injury
  • Blood loss
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Issues with bite fit

Certain factors may increase the risk of complications in healing. For example, patients who are smokers, have bleeding disorders or have certain chronic health conditions are considered to be at a higher risk of problems.

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is often recommended for people who have jaw issues that cannot be fixed with just braces or aligners. The ideal candidates for jaw surgery include those who:

  • Have a misaligned bite (overbite, underbite, crossbite, and/or open bite)
  • Want to address facial imbalances such as asymmetry or jaw recession
  • Are looking to treat problems like obstructive sleep apnea and speech difficulties
  • Have explored less invasive solutions such as braces
  • Are nonsmokers or are willing to quit to support proper healing
  • Have a positive outlook and realistic expectations for the procedure

If you think that you may benefit from corrective jaw surgery, schedule a consultation. Dr. Rudman is a skilled orthodontist who has experience with surgical orthodontic cases.

The Orthognathic Surgery Procedure Explained

Orthognathic surgery is done by oral and maxillofacial surgeons as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that often includes orthodontic work. It is commonly performed under general anesthesia and takes place in a hospital. The specific steps involved will depend on your case.

Usually, jaw surgery can be performed inside your mouth. This means that you will not have visible facial scars on your jaw, chin, or around your mouth. However, there are exceptions.

During the procedure, your surgeon will create cuts in your jawbones to move them into their ideal position. After that, some combination of screws, wires and rubber bands, and small bone plates may be used. They will secure the bones in place and slowly integrate into their structure.

Additional steps may sometimes be necessary. For example, adding extra bone to the jaw. Keep in mind that orthognathic surgery can be performed on the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both.

What Food Restrictions Will I Need To Observe After Orthognathic Surgery?

You may be instructed to follow a specific diet for approximately 4-6 weeks after jaw surgery. It is usually referred to as a no chew diet and consists of pureed or very soft foods. The idea is to minimize chewing during recovery to prevent putting strain on the tender and sore surgical area.

There are certain things you should not eat. Chunks of meat, hard cheese, bread, raw vegetables, fibrous or dried fruit, and similar options fall on the list of restricted foods.

What Type of Results Can I Expect After Orthognathic Surgery?

Jaw surgery results are immediate although your plan may still include additional orthodontic treatment. When everything is complete, the improvement in function and aesthetics should be noticeable and long-lasting. Many patients report that jaw surgery had a life-changing impact.

Because jaw surgery helps align your jaws and teeth, it can result in:

  • A more balanced facial appearance
  • Enhanced dental function
  • Health benefits from improved sleep and breathing
  • Improvements in speech impairments

Why Do Jaw Abnormalities Occur?

Jaw abnormalities can occur for several reasons. Often, they are the result of uneven jaw growth. After all, jaw development happens gradually, and sometimes the upper and lower jaws do not match up at the end of the process. Injury to the jaw during growth can also play a role.

Will My Jaw Be Wired Shut After My Orthognathic Surgery?

External stabilization is sometimes used to facilitate proper healing after orthognathic surgery. Wires can act like a cast for your teeth and jawbones during the initial phases of the recovery.

Some patients have their jaws wired shut after orthognathic surgery and some patients do not. It depends on your doctor’s preference and whether you are at risk for poor bone healing after surgery. Some risk factors include diabetes, advanced age, and the use of certain medications.

Rest assured that jaw wiring is not painful. However, it can make it difficult to get adequate nutrition. You will need to rely on things like protein shakes, soups, and other liquid foods.

Will I Need Orthodontic Treatment Before or After Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthodontic treatment, such as braces, is typically required before and after orthognathic surgery. 

Pre-surgical orthodontics help align your teeth in preparation for the surgical procedure. This ensures optimal results. The pre-surgery orthodontic treatment can last from 12 to 18 months.

Post-surgery, additional orthodontic treatment is usually necessary. This fine-tunes the alignment and ensures the teeth settle correctly into their new positions.

Can Orthognathic Surgery Correct Sleep Apnea or Other Breathing Issues?

Yes, orthognathic surgery can correct sleep apnea and other breathing issues caused by structural problems in the jaw. By repositioning the jaw, the surgery can open up the airway. This reduces or eliminates obstructions that cause breathing difficulties during sleep.

The Advanced Orthodontic Care team assesses each patient's condition individually. They will determine if orthognathic surgery is an appropriate treatment for sleep apnea or other breathing issues.

Can Orthognathic Surgery Improve TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders?

Studies show that orthognathic surgery can improve TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. Misaligned jaws can place undue stress on the TMJ. This stress leads to pain, dysfunction, and other related symptoms. 

By correctly aligning the jaws, orthognathic surgery can reduce stress, reduce pain, and improve the function of the TMJ. Patients often experience relief from chronic TMJ symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing.

We assess each patient’s TMJ condition as part of our comprehensive evaluation process. This assessment helps us to determine if orthognathic surgery is a suitable treatment option for their TMJ issues.

Will There Be Visible Scars After Orthognathic Surgery?

One of the advantages of orthognathic surgery is that it often leaves minimal to no visible scars. Most of the incisions are made inside the mouth. This means any resulting scars are hidden within the oral cavity. 

In some cases, small external incisions may be necessary. However, these are typically placed in inconspicuous areas and heal well over time. 

We only refer our patients to surgeons who use advanced techniques that minimize scarring and enhance the aesthetic outcomes of the surgery. We also discuss all potential scarring concerns with our patients during the pre-surgical consultation.

How Soon Can I Resume Normal Activities After Orthognathic Surgery?

The timeline for resuming normal activities varies from patient to patient. It depends on the complexity of the procedure and individual recovery rates. 

Generally, most patients can return to light activities, such as walking and basic self-care, within a few days to a week after surgery. However, you should avoid more strenuous activities for at least 6-8 weeks to allow for proper healing. Activities to avoid include:

  • Intense exercise
  • Heavy lifting
  • Sports 

It’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s specific post-operative instructions. They will provide personalized guidelines based on your progress. 

We closely monitor our patients’ recovery. We will provide tailored advice to help them resume their daily routines safely.

Can Orthognathic Surgery Be Combined With Other Cosmetic Procedures?

Yes, you can combine orthognathic surgery with other cosmetic procedures. Commonly combined procedures include:

  • Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping)
  • Chin augmentation
  • Liposuction of the neck

Combining procedures can offer a more comprehensive transformation. It also reduces the need for multiple surgeries and recovery periods. 

During your consultation, the surgical team will discuss your aesthetic goals. They will also assess whether combining orthognathic surgery with other cosmetic procedures is appropriate for you.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you're interested in learning more about orthognathic surgery please contact us for a consultation at 303-331-0222 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.

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