Get the Facts (or the Jaw) Straight: Orthognathic Surgery

Posted on . Filed under: Orthognathic Surgery

Whether you are having problems with your tooth or jaw alignment, in serious cases you might need to have orthognathic surgery. But what is it? What does this entail? And how exactly will it help you? We’re here to tell you all about this surgery that is fairly common and yet fairly unknown.

What Does “Orthognathic” Mean?

This word is long, but it’s not too confusing once we break it up. You’ve heard the prefix “ortho” before in “orthodontics.” And in context that makes sense, as “ortho” comes from the Greek word for “straight.” The second half of the word, “gnathic,” comes from the Greek word for “jaw.” If you put them together, “orthognathic” is essentially just an old, fancy, Greek word for “straight jaw.”

What Does It Mean to Have a Crooked Jaw?

While you might not be able to visibly see the fact that your jaw is not straight (although sometimes you will be able to see it), you will certainly be able to feel it. If your jaw is not in alignment, you might suffer from a lot of unnecessary pain and inconvenience. These problems can include:

  • Speech problems
  • Chronic pain in your jaw
  • Problems eating (such as chewing and swallowing)
  • Excessive wear on the teeth
  • Snoring or sleep apnea
  • Inability to bring teeth or lips together properly

Often it will look like your jaw is pushed back, forward, or to the side, like you are jutting out your chin or purposely gaping your mouth open. However, these are not purposeful, and although you may think they are harmless, they are really causing you a lot of pain.

What Happens During the Surgery?

During the surgery, your jaw will be completely repositioned and realigned. Both parts of your jaw will be divided into smaller sections and often surgically separated and moved to line the teeth up properly. Everything is planned out to the most exact measurements. Even though it sounds intense, you will be out of the hospital soon after the surgery is complete—within the day or the next.