One procedure individuals might require when they visit the dentist is corrective jaw surgery. The average dentist is not qualified to perform this procedure, but one that has obtained higher education and becomes a maxillofacial oral surgeon can.
As with any procedure that involves the structure of the face, corrective jaw surgery can sound terrifying for the average individual. Despite this reputation, it is a beneficial treatment that focuses on correcting jaw misalignments to improve patient comfort and overall oral function.
Corrective jaw surgery is performed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes patients will require minor changes to help their teeth fit together to create a complete bite, but others might need treatment to correct problems that occur when swallowing or speaking. Other issues that require the surgery include:
Corrective jaw surgery is not performed lightly. Patients who are candidates will often need to wear braces for 12-18 months before the surgery to see if the problem can be corrected using other methods. The braces are handled by an orthodontist, while surgery is done by an oral or maxillofacial surgeon.
When surgery occurs, all cuts and changes are made from inside the mouth, so scars are not left on the exterior of the face. Only small incisions might be made around the corners of the mouth. From the interior, the surgeon slices through the small tissues and then cuts the jawbones to move them into the right position.
Once the jaw movement is done, small equipment like screws, rubber bands, wires, and bone plates are used to fix the jaw in the new position. The screws eventually become part of the bone structure. When necessary, extra bone is added to the jaw before the soft tissue is sealed once more and allowed to heal.