As many as 12 million adults in the US experience pain in the temporomandibular joint region. If you have a jaw bone problem, your doctor might recommend orthognathic surgery.

Also known as corrective jaw surgery, this procedure can help improve your ability to eat and speak. The surgery isn’t a singular event, though. Rather, it’s a process that can take place over two or three years.

What should you expect from corrective jaw surgery before and after? Keep reading to find out.

Reviewing this guide on orthognathic surgery can help you maintain realistic expectations. Then, you can talk to a surgeon to determine if this procedure is right for you.

Read on to learn more about improving your jaw function with surgery today.

What is Corrective Jaw Surgery?

Before we discuss corrective jaw surgery before and after, let’s look at the procedure as a whole. What exactly is orthognathic surgery?

This procedure helps to align the upper jaw (maxilla) with the lower jaw (mandible). When these two jaws aren’t aligned, it can impact your bite. You could struggle to speak or chew as well.

Remember, orthognathic surgery isn’t a one-time procedure. First, your surgeon will use orthodontic treatment to prepare your teeth for the surgery. Then, you’ll need to schedule the surgery itself.

Afterward, you’ll need time to recover.

About a year after your initial surgery, you’ll require more orthodontic treatment as well. As a result, the procedure could take as long as three years. 

You can talk to your surgeon for a more accurate timeline. 

Reasons to Schedule Surgery

You might develop a defect later in life due to an injury or medical condition. However, many jaw bone problems are present at birth. 

For example, you might have an overbite or underbite. Perhaps you have Treacher Collins syndrome; an overarching medical condition that can cause jaw problems.

A cross-bite can occur if your bottom teeth sit in front of your upper teeth. If you have an open bite, however, your teeth don’t come together when you bite down.

Some patients are born with a cleft lip and palate. This occurs when the face and mouth don’t develop properly.

Other children are born with Pierre Robin sequence. They have small, lower jaws, which can make it difficult for them to breathe or eat.

You might have a facial fracture if your maxilla and mandible are injured in an accident. For example, you could break your lower jaw if you’re hit or punched. You might break your upper jaw after a fall or vehicular accident.

Your doctor might recommend orthognathic surgery if you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), too. OSA occurs when the tongue, tonsils, and airway muscles block your airway. You could stop breathing while you’re sleeping as a result.

Your surgeon can fix OSA with maxillomandibular advancement (MMA).

If you have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), you have an improper bite.

Growth disturbances could lead you to require corrective jaw surgery, too. 

How to Prepare

Make sure to talk to your surgeon about corrective jaw surgery before and after. They’ll help you manage your expectations. They’ll also ensure this is the best treatment option based on your needs. 

Before the surgery, your doctor will need to gather information. They might use:

  • X-rays
  • Photos of your jaw and teeth
  • Impressions of your teeth (using a model)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans

They might need to scan your teeth as well. 

Remember, you’ll likely need orthodontic treatment before the surgery. An orthodontist will prepare your mouth and teeth. For example, they might need to remove teeth.

They might recommend you wear braces for a year before the surgery, too. 

Before the surgery, your doctor will likely restrict your food intake. You’ll need to choose foods that you can consume without swallowing. Stock up on milk, soup, or foods you can liquefy with a blender.

You’ll also need general anesthesia beforehand. 

Potential Risks

As with any procedure, there are a few complications you might experience from jaw surgery. These might include:

  • Jaw joint pain
  • Jaw position relapse
  • Infection
  • Blood loss
  • Nerve injuries
  • Jaw fractures
  • Loss of a portion of the jaw
  • Root canals

Make sure to find a licensed, experienced surgeon before your procedure. An experienced surgeon can minimize your risk of these complications. 

During Surgery

Your surgery will take place in a hospital. In a single year, about 10,345 patients were hospitalized for orthognathic surgery. Segmental osteoplasty of the maxilla was performed the most. 

You might need to remain in the hospital for two to four days after your surgery. 

Remember, you’ll remain under general anesthesia. Then, an oral surgeon will make incisions along your jawbone. They’ll need to position the jaw into alignment.

The entire procedure is performed inside your mouth, meaning you won’t have to worry about visible scars. 

Your surgeon will use screws, rubber bands, wires, and plates to secure the jawbones.

The entire procedure takes between two or three hours. The duration can vary based on the complexity of your treatment. 

After Surgery

Talk to your surgeon about your corrective jaw surgery before and after plan. After surgery, you’ll need to recover for about six weeks. Try to take at least two weeks off work or school.

The entire healing process can take about three months.

You might experience postoperative symptoms like swelling, nausea, and bleeding. These should subside within a few hours.

Your surgeon will help you determine what you can eat. They’ll prescribe pain medication, too.

Avoid strenuous activity for at least two weeks.

For the first week, you’ll need to follow a liquid diet. You can move on to solid foods once your mouth heals.

Follow the instructions your surgeon provides. For example, you’ll need to rinse using warm salt water about two or three times a day. You might require mouth therapy, too.

About two weeks after the surgery, you’ll likely need braces as well. 

Corrective Jaw Surgery Before and After: Your Guide to a Stronger Smile

The corrective jaw surgery before and after process doesn’t have to feel scary. Instead, talk to a surgeon about your orthognathic surgery. They can help you develop a treatment plan.

With their help, you’ll know exactly what to expect. You can feel confident that this is the right treatment for your jaw. 

Want to learn more? We’re here to help.

Find one of our oral & cosmetic surgery centers near you today to schedule your appointment.