If reconstructive jaw surgery is something you’ve considered, you probably have a lot of questions. What will the surgery be like? What can you expect from recovery? There are so many factors involved, where do you even start the conversation?
As with anything, it’s best to start with the basics. When you talk to your maxillofacial surgeon about having jaw surgery, start with these five questions.
Depending on your condition, you may be eligible for jaw surgery. Some of the conditions treated by this procedure include chronic jaw pain; facial injury or birth defects; difficulty biting, chewing, or swallowing; sleep apnea; protruding jaw; and receding chin. If you have one or more of these conditions, talk to your oral surgeon about your options.
Usually, you will wear braces prior to the surgery that will move your teeth into the correct position to make the surgery successful. Depending on your condition and how close your teeth are to where they should be, you may need to wear braces for a long or short period of time. Frequently, patients feel like the braces are making their teeth worse, but once the procedure is complete, your teeth should fit together well.
The procedure will be done in the operating room under anesthesia. You will be asleep during the surgery and your jaw will be reconstructed to fit your specific needs. This can mean bone will be added, reshaped, or removed. It is also likely that screws or small metal plates will be inserted to improve functionality and prevent you from having your jaw “wired shut” during recovery.
Your maxillofacial surgeon will give you instructions about what you should eat and do once you get home from your procedure. You will likely be put on a mostly liquid diet and follow a schedule to return to eating normally. Your doctor may also suggest limiting your physical activity, and will let you know when you can return to school or work. If you have pain, you can manage it with medication that your surgeon will prescribe or recommend.
Full recovery time depends on your condition, but for the most part, should take around six weeks. After this initial healing period, you will begin to finish your orthodontic care.
It can be difficult to struggle with the conditions that often make reconstructive jaw surgery a necessity. If you need help finding an oral and maxillofacial surgeon that you can talk to, use our surgeon finder tool or read more about the procedure on our website.