Most of us who had to deal with jaw pain and other oral health issues might get used to our health issues and sort of think, that it’ll fix itself. We’re here to tell you: no. That’s not how it works.
People don’t reach out to orthodontic surgeons out of nowhere. Also, your dental healthcare provider won’t refer you to corrective jaw surgery unless there are obvious signs that you’d truly benefit from one.
The tricky part comes from those who haven’t been to the dentist in a while. Or you’ve been neglecting the signs that they’re in dire need of jaw corrections. Your jaw health can impact your overall health. For instance, studies have shown that jaw disorders are linked to depression and anxiety.
So if you’re unaware of when jaw surgery would be required, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Keep on reading to learn all about jaw surgery, the key signs that you should pay attention to, as well as the main types of jaw surgeries available.
Jaw Disorders 101: When Is Jaw Surgery Essential?
Before fully hopping on the jaw surgery train, let’s explore the main signs and symptoms that you need in the first place.
Let’s start with the most common ones and go to the more “niche” conditions.
Bone Structure Issues: Improper Bite
The first treatments to address a malocclusion or incorrect bite are retainers, braces, and tooth extraction.
On the other hand, surgery may be a preferable option if your teeth are significantly misaligned or if your jaw bone structure causes malocclusion. Your orthodontist may correct the following bite issues with jaw surgery:
- Open bites
Once your orthodontist diagnoses you with a severe case of an improper bite, you’ll (probably) make a good candidate for jaw surgery.
Asymmetrical or Protruding Jawline
When the upper and lower jaws don’t line up, the bones in certain places have grown more than others.
If your lower jaw protrudes, you may have mandibular hyperplasia (lower jaw overdevelopment). Or, you might have maxillary hypoplasia (lower jaw underdevelopment), or even underdevelopment of the upper jaw.
You may have maxillary hyperplasia (overdevelopment of the upper jaw) or mandibular hypoplasia if your lower jaw recedes (underdevelopment of the lower jaw).
Several developmental disorders may produce an uneven jawline by limiting growth on one side of the jaw or causing overgrowth in specific regions.
All of these problems require jaw surgery or recontouring. Although a projecting, receding, or uneven jawline may be seen as early as childhood, patients must wait until maturity, when the jaw has completed developing before jaw correction surgery. Children may improve their issues with braces, retainers, or headgear until surgery becomes a possibility.
Injury and Facial Trauma: Dealing With Jaw Damage
Surgery may be the greatest choice for restoring jaw functioning and a symmetrical face shape.
Especially if you break your jaw or injure your teeth and gums in a sports injury, automobile accident, or other traumatic incident.
Chronic Jaw Pain
You might have heard about the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is the hinge that connects the upper and lower jaws. Place a finger in front of your ear and open your lips to feel the joint. Although occasional popping is not a reason for worry, the movement you feel should be smooth and unbroken.
You may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) if your jaw locks or feels uncomfortable when you open your mouth wide. TMD is linked with swelling and tissue degeneration.
Jaw Cysts and Tumors
Muscle, bone, glands, and mucosa are among the tissue types that make up the mouth and jaw. This makes your face more prone to tumors and cysts than other areas of your body, particularly if you smoke or consume alcoholic beverages.
If growths develop in and around your jaw, you may require surgical removal to avoid malocclusions, deformities, and other issues. If a tumor or cyst is found to be malignant, chemotherapy and radiation may be required.
The Different Categories of Jaw Surgery
Now that you have a foundational understanding of the different kinds of jaw disorders, you’ll want to learn about the surgical methods available to fix them, once and for all.
In general, the lower jaw (mandible), upper jaw (maxilla), chin, cheekbones (zygomas), nose (septorhinoplasty), and jaw joints (TMJ) may be operated on in different combinations or separately. Jaw surgery may be divided into three different categories.
Maxillary Osteotomy: Upper Jaw Surgery
Upper jaw surgery is used to treat a receding or projecting upper jaw, a crossbite, an open bite, or hypoplasia in the midface (receded mid-facial and nasal shape or profile).
The maxilla (the bone that supports your top teeth) is separated from the base of your nose and cheeks during the operation. The top jaw (which includes the roof of your mouth, upper teeth, and bones that support the nose) is then adjusted to match your lower teeth and face form.
The outcome increases nasal ventilation while also correcting the dental bite, adjusting the smile line (the lip drape over the teeth), reshaping the nasal profile (the tip and septum), and correcting the dental bite.
Mandibular Osteotomy: Lower Jaw Surgery
On the other side of the jawline (literally), we have lower jaw surgery.
A lower jaw that has receded (hypoplastic) or protruded (hyperplastic) may be corrected with surgery. The jaw joints (TMJs) are separated from the bone that houses the teeth and chin during the operation.
Following that, the tooth-bearing jawbone is shifted forward or backward, depending on the optimum correction and bite alignment. This procedure may straighten crooked chins, enhance the profile of the lower face, and correct the dental bite (deviations or asymmetries).
Genioplasty: Chin Surgery
So, Chin surgery may be used to expand a tiny chin (or a significantly receding lower jaw), rectify asymmetry, or close the lips over the teeth (known as lip competence).
This treatment may be done in conjunction with or without jaw surgery on both the upper and lower jaws. The end result enhances the lower face’s profile while also allowing for the repair of crooked chins.
Ready for Your Jaw Correction Operation?
We know how scary it can be to navigate the waters of jaw surgery and other kinds of invasive oral procedures. But, oral health issues tend only to worsen the more you ignore them and leave them unattended.
Hopefully, our explainer has shown you the different surgical options you have, as well as the red flags that tell you it’s time for a visit to your orthodontist.
And, if you’ve enjoyed reading our article, you’ll want to check out our additional tips and advice blogs, all available to you in our health section.