What Is Orthognathic Surgery

Sometimes, we find that patients in Watertown and Middlebury need more than Invisalign or braces. While we love and believe in those treatments, some patients need extra special attention. For these patients, Dr. Clauss might have to work alongside an oral surgeon who will perform orthognathic surgery. Now, don’t let that scare you! Surgeries like orthognathic surgery are more common than you might think. What is orthognathic surgery? Clauss Orthodontics can help you through every step of the process. 

Why Do People Need Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is a complex procedure that may be needed in addition to braces or Invisalign in order to correct a variety of jaw abnormalities. This surgery is usually performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who works in conjunction with Dr. Clauss to correct the position of the upper and lower jawbones. There are several reasons why you might need orthognathic surgery. 

One of the most common reasons is to correct a malocclusion, a misalignment of the teeth and jaws. Malocclusion can cause problems with chewing, speaking, and even breathing. This is because the teeth and jaws are not properly aligned, which can lead to difficulty opening and closing the mouth and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). You may have heard of “lockjaw” or “TMJ.” We’ll address that in more detail momentarily. 

Other reasons for orthognathic surgery include correcting facial asymmetry, improving the appearance of the face, and treating sleep apnea. Facial asymmetry can occur when your jaws are not properly aligned, which can cause one side of your face to appear more prominent than the other. But did you know that orthognathic surgery can improve the symmetry and balance of your face? Additionally, orthognathic surgery can treat sleep apnea, in which a person stops breathing for short periods during sleep.

Leaving Lockjaw Behind

The term “TMJ” is frequently used interchangeably with “lockjaw,” but it’s actually incorrect. The proper term for lockjaw is temporomandibular joint dysfunction, which is abbreviated as TMJD or TMD. The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible or lower jaw to the upper part of the skull. Pain in this joint may be felt in the cheeks or around the ears. Additionally, if you feel a popping sensation in your jaw, it could be a sign of TMJD. 

Remember when we talked about “malocclusion?” Malocclusion refers to the misalignment of the teeth or jaws. It can lead to a range of issues, such as difficulty biting, chewing, and speaking, as well as jaw pain and excessive wear on the teeth.

The various types of malocclusion include:

  • Overbite: happens when the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth excessively.
  • Underbite: occurs when the lower front teeth overlap the upper front teeth excessively.
  • Crossbite: when the upper teeth don’t align correctly with the lower teeth, it leads to a crossbite.
  • Open bite: when the upper and lower front teeth don’t meet while the back teeth are closed.
  • Crowding: when there isn’t enough space in the mouth for all the teeth, they overlap and become crooked.
  • Spacing: if there is too much space in the mouth, it causes gaps between the teeth.

The process of orthognathic surgery begins with a consultation with Dr. Clauss and our team. During this consultation, we will evaluate your situation and determine if orthognathic surgery is necessary. If it is, Dr. Clauss will develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

The oral surgeon typically performs the surgical procedure under general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep during the process. The doctor will make incisions inside your mouth to access the jawbones. The bones are then repositioned and secured with plates, screws, or wires. The incisions are then closed with stitches.

Recovery from orthognathic surgery can take several weeks. You must follow a special diet of soft, easy-to-chew foods for the first few weeks. You may also need to wear braces for several months after the surgery to ensure your teeth are correctly aligned. Additionally, you must attend follow-up appointments with our team to monitor your progress and make sure everything is going as it should. 

The benefits of orthognathic surgery can be life-changing. By correcting the position of the jawbones, you can improve your ability to chew, speak, and breathe properly. This can lead to a better quality of life and enhanced self-esteem. Additionally, correcting facial asymmetry can improve your appearance and boost your confidence.

However, it’s essential to understand that orthognathic surgery is not without risks. Like any surgery, bleeding, infection, and anesthesia complications are risks. Additionally, there is a risk of nerve damage, which can cause numbness or tingling in the face or lips. Dr. Clauss will discuss these risks with you before the procedure.

What Is Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic Surgery at Clauss Orthodontics

If you’re considering orthognathic surgery, discussing your options with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Clauss is essential. He can evaluate your situation and determine if orthognathic surgery suits you. Clauss Orthodontics has two office locations in Connecticut – Middlebury and Watertown. 

We’re here to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile you can be proud of. If you have any questions about orthognathic surgery or any other orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to give us a call or schedule a consultation. Visit us here to get started. We’re always happy to help!