Corrective jaw surgery

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Correct alignment of your jaws can result in significant aesthetic and functional benefits

Corrective jaw surgery (also called orthognathic surgery) involves repositioning the bones of your upper and/or lower jaw.

Problems that can be corrected by corrective jaw surgery include:

  • A jaw that’s too large or small
  • A jaw that’s too far forward or too far back
  • A jaw that’s crooked

Your jaw problem may be due to injury, disease, developmental growth problems or it can be the way you were born.

You may have difficulty with chewing, speaking or caring for your teeth and gums— or you may be concerned about how your jaw problem affects your appearance.

With correct positioning of your jaws, eating and speaking is easier.

Other problems that may be solved with corrective jaw surgery include: chronic jaw pain, headaches, a poorly-aligned bite and obstructive sleep apnoea.

Planning for corrective jaw surgery

Dr van Mourik plans the surgery in conjunction with your specialist orthodontist and your general dentist. You were probably referred by your orthdontist at some point during your orthodontic work, usually before it is commenced.

You will have a consultation with Dr van Mourik to discuss the problem, the surgery process, risks and likely outcomes. If you decide to go ahead with surgery, the following steps are taken:

  • Before surgery you may need orthodontic work performed to straighten your teeth.
  • Following the orthodontic work you will have a consultation with Dr van Mourik where things are discussed in greater detail.
  • A cone beam X-ray, measurements and 3D modelling of your jaws are done.
  • Surgery is then planned on a computer using virtual surgical planning and specific surgical plates and cutting guides are made.
  • Dr van Mourik performs your corrective jaw surgery.
  • You may need to have minor orthodontic procedures after the surgery. They can commence approximately 6 weeks after surgery.
  • Periodic reviews to monitor your healing and ensure that your jaws are staying properly aligned.

Three types of corrective jaw surgery

Upper jaw surgery

Your upper jaw (maxilla) can be operated on if it’s too large, too small, too far forward, too far back or crooked. Gummy smiles, incorrect bites, lip and midfacial support can be significantly helped by upper jaw surgery. Sometimes upper jaw surgery is done simultaneously with lower jaw surgery or chin surgery.

Lower jaw surgery

Your lower jaw (mandible) can be operated on if it’s too large, too small, too far forward, too far back or crooked. An incorrect bite, facial profile or symmetry can be significantly improved by lower jaw surgery. Sometimes lower jaw surgery is done simultaneously with upper jaw surgery or chin surgery.

Upper and lower jaw surgery

Sometimes both jaws need to be adjusted to correct a bite or facial problem. This is also called ‘bimaxillary surgery’.

How corrective jaw surgery is performed

Dr van Mourik performs corrective jaw surgery in a public or private hospital. The surgery is performed under general anaesthetic administered by an specialist anaesthetist. The anaesthetist is also in charge of providing your post-surgery pain relief.

The procedure involves carefully cutting through your jawbone and moving your jaw (or jaws) into the correct position. If your jaw is too small, it may be lengthened and it’s too large it can be shortened. The incisions are usually made inside your mouth so you have no visible scars. If Dr van Mourik does need to make an incision in your face, he’ll take care to hide it in the natural skin creases to reduce visibility.

Once your jaws have been positioned correctly, he will fix them in place with small plates and screws. The plates and screws are left in place permanently.

The surgery takes 1 to 4 hours, depending on its complexity.

Recovery after corrective jaw surgery

Hospital stay: Single jaw surgery, usually involves 2 to 3 nights in hospital. If you’ve had surgery on both jaws, you will need to spend 4 to 5 nights in hospital. Once you can eat and drink without assistance you can go home.

Pain management: To control pain while you’re in hospital, you’ll be given intravenous analgesia, prescribed by the anaesthetist, which you can self-administer by pressing a button. Usually by 48 hours after the operation, pain tablets such as Nurofen® or Panadiene® are sufficient to keep you comfortable.

Work/School: You’ll need to allow 2 to 3 weeks off.

Stitches: Dissolving stitches are used in most cases. They gradually dissolve over 2 to 3 weeks.

Diet: A soft food diet is required for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Follow up care: Dr van Mourik will want to see you periodically to monitor your healing and ensure that your jaws are staying properly aligned.

Complete healing can take 3 to 6 months.

Dr Van Mourik will give you detailed post-operative instructions during your pre-surgery consultation. To maximise your chance of making a quick recovery without complications, please pay careful attention to these instructions. General information can be found on the Post-op and Patient Care page.

Possible Complications

It’s unusual to have complications with corrective face and jaw surgery when you have a skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon to perform the procedure. However, all surgeries have some potential risks and complications and for face and jaw surgery they include:

  • Numbness caused by nerve injury
  • Infection
  • Return to the original bite position
  • Aggravation of your tempromandibular (jaw) joint.

Cost of corrective jaw surgery

Medicare will reimburse you for part of your initial consultation.

Dr van Mourik will give you a written quote for the cost of your corrective jaw surgery at the initial consultation. We’ll help you make applicable Medicare and private health insurance claims so that you’ll know how much of the cost will be covered.

We’ll give you contact details for the anaesthetist so you can obtain their fee schedule. Medicare and private health insurance will cover part of the anaesthetist’s costs.

Dr van Mourik is a highly experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He has performed several hundred corrective jaw surgeries and has a reputation for excellent results.

Learn more about orthognathic (jaw) surgery in our comprehensive guides

(02) 9416 4809

Suite 5, 12 Tryon Rd, Lindfield 2070, NSW

Suite 104, 568 Oxford St, Bondi Junction 2022, NSW

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