Am I a Candidate for Orthognathic Surgery?

You may have been living with a misaligned jaw for years without realizing you had a problem. The symptoms can be deceiving and make you think you have an issue with your teeth, tongue, or face.

An accurate diagnosis is critical so you can get the right treatment. Our team of experts at Oral Facial Surgery Specialists of The Woodlands has the experience, training, and advanced technology to determine if and how your jaws is involved in your symptoms. 

If so, we start with the most conservative treatment options first to resolve your pain and other challenges, including chewing, speaking, and sleeping. 

In many cases, jaw surgery, also called orthognathic surgery, is the best way to restore your ability to eat what you love, speak with confidence, and breathe with ease. Here’s how to tell if you're a good candidate for orthognathic surgery.

Jaw conditions that warrant orthognathic surgery

Not all jaw problems call for surgery. Most of the candidates for orthognathic surgery have skeletal discrepancies that make their jaws misaligned.  Patients with open bites, or that one jaw is bigger or smaller than the other are the best candidates.   Sometimes a combination of  all these factors are found in the individual.  

During the growing years, some mild skeletal discrepancies can be modified with orthopedic forces that are applied through orthodontic appliances.  If the skeletal deformity is to severe to be modified during the growing years, orthognathic surgery is the best and only treatment to solve the problem. If you have one of these conditions, you might be a great candidate for jaw surgery:

Speech impediments

The ability to enunciate words is a critical part of language and communication, but in order to speak clearly, you rely on your jaw, teeth, and tongue working in perfect harmony.

A jaw that is underdeveloped, misaligned, or protruding hinders your tongue’s freedom to move fluidly while forming words.

Difficulty chewing 

If your lower jaw doesn’t line up with your upper jaw, your teeth won’t fit together as they were designed to. Your molars might not make good contact, or you might not be able to tear or chew your food easily.

Swallowing may become difficult as well because your tongue and the muscles involved in sending food down your throat can’t work together properly. 

Open bite

Open bite, often called anterior or posterior open bite, happens when your front teeth (top and/or bottom) slant outward slightly so they don’t touch each other when you close your mouth. It’s a common result of thumb-sucking and tongue-thrusting.

A posterior open bite, the opposite of an anterior open bite, occurs when the back teeth and molars don’t match up. Ideally, your top back teeth should sit slightly outside your lower back teeth. But if your jaw is not in the right position, it throws your teeth out of alignment, too.

Temporomandibular joint disorder

The hinges in your jaw that allow you to move it when you eat and speak are called your temporomandibular joints. When you have ongoing pain in these joints or can’t move your jaw, it’s called a TMJ disorder. 

About a third of the US population suffers from some degree of TMJ, and about 12% have such severe cases that they seek medical intervention.

TMJ disorder covers a wide range of problems from mild discomfort to debilitating pain and mobility issues, and it can involve your bones, muscles, and/or ligaments. In some cases, TMJ can lead to sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that interferes with your ability to breathe.

In addition to pain, TMJ may cause a popping sound in your jaw when you open and close it. Depending on the cause of your TMJ and the other treatments you’ve tried, orthognathic surgery may be able relieve all of these symptoms.

Facial feature deformities

Another symptom of jaw malformations and misalignments is deformity of your facial features. Whether you have a protruding jaw, an unusually small jaw, or any other condition that affects the size, shape, position, orientation, or symmetry of your jaw, it drastically affects the way you look.

Other factors to consider before orthognathic surgery

If you have one of the conditions we just listed, you may be a good candidate for orthognathic surger.  Here are some other things to consider.  You should:

If we’ve determined that orthognathic surgery can address your oral and facial issues, we discuss the procedure in detail with you. 

Depending on your condition, we can reposition or resize your upper jawbone (maxilla), lower jawbone (mandible), or chin, correct any skeletal discrepancies, and improve facial aesthetics. 

Call our Woodlands, Texas, office or request an appointment through our online tool to learn more about how orthognathic surgery might be right for you.

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