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Sacramento Doctor Answers Your FAQs About Orthognathic Surgery

By November 30, 2023Sacramento Dentist
man in pink shirt with hand on his jaw on yellow background

Embarking on the journey of orthognathic surgery raises numerous questions about its meaning, purpose, outcomes, and more. Gathering information about this transformative procedure is key to understanding both its benefits and risks. That’s why our Sacramento dentist is here to answer your questions about jaw surgery. 

Misaligned jaws can pose a serious threat to your orofacial and systemic health, contributing to health issues like myofunctional disorders, sleep apnea, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction. If you suspect that misaligned teeth and jaws are impacting your overall health and quality of life, it’s time to contact Timothy E. Mickiewicz, D.D.S. Our dentist in Sacramento, CA, can help you pursue lasting solutions that enhance your smile and body. Just call (916) 469-9178 to learn more about your options today!

In this in-depth guide, we delve into the most common inquiries surrounding orthognathic surgery. Here, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this surgery’s significance, success rates, postoperative experience, and overall value.

What does orthognathic mean?

The word “orthognathic” has origins rooted in Greek vocabulary. “Ortho” simply means “straight or correct.” You may have seen this prefix in words such as “orthopedic” (which entails the straightening of bones and connective tissues) or “orthodontic” (which describes the act of straightening teeth).

The term “gnathos” is another Greek prefix that describes creatures with a moveable jaw, specifically vertebrates. This includes roughly 99% of vertebra-containing species, including humans.

When we put these prefixes together, we come to understand that “orthognathic surgery” really just means “jaw-correcting surgery.” But what does jaw surgery entail?

Orthognathic surgery encompasses procedures aimed at repositioning the upper jaw (maxilla), lower jaw (mandible), or both to achieve proper alignment. This surgical intervention is not merely cosmetic. Indeed, it addresses functional issues, such as difficulties in chewing, biting, and speaking.

Why get jaw surgery?

We get it – the thought of getting jaw surgery isn’t pleasant. In many cases, patients who need jaw correction end up needing several weeks or months to recover from the procedure. So, why should you get jaw surgery?

Well, dentists usually recommend orthognathic surgery only if they believe that the benefits of surgery will be far greater than continued jaw dysfunction and pain. And, in many cases, a full recovery after orthognathic surgery affords patients a better quality of life with enhanced health and confidence. 

A doctor may recommend jaw surgery if a patient has:

  • Abnormal bite patterns (such as a cross bite or overbite)
  • Facial imbalances due to irregular jaw structure
  • Chronic obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

For many, the promise of a more symmetrical face after jaw surgery is enough to make the surgery worth it. However, there are more practical reasons to pursue corrective surgery, as the procedure also improves functionality and can contribute to overall oral health.

What is the success rate of jaw surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is not an experimental procedure, which is why it harbors a high success rate. In fact, the majority of patients who undergo this surgery report positive and significant improvements in both their orofacial function and aesthetics.

However, there is evidence to suggest that some patients’ jaws can relapse after orthognathic surgery. Relapse refers to the jaw’s tendency to revert back to its original location before the patient underwent surgery. Experts believe that some 60% of patients could experience relapse if they do not take the necessary precautions.

So, what can you do to ensure the long-term success of orthognathic surgery? Our dentist in Sacramento recommends focusing on factors such as:

  • Getting an accurate diagnosis from a trained professional
  • Being an active part of your treatment planning
  • Adhering to all postoperative care instructions, including dietary restrictions and retention devices

Although relapses do occur, extreme complications before, during, and after jaw surgery are rare. Thanks to advancements in surgical techniques and technology, doctors can enhance surgical outcomes, making orthognathic surgery a reliable and effective solution.

How painful is orthognathic surgery?

It is hard to quantify perceived pain, as every individual will have different thresholds. However, many patients report moderate discomfort rather than intense pain after jaw surgery

To help diminish any discomfort after the procedure, surgeons may recommend a strict over-the-counter painkiller regimen or prescription pain medications. However, patients may find other aspects of their recovery more vexing than postoperative pain.

For example, some patients may require constant jaw stability while recovering. To achieve this, a surgeon may need to wire the jaw shut for weeks at a time, which can hinder one’s ability to eat and speak without restrictions.

What will my face look like after orthognathic surgery?

Patients should anticipate a transformative journey, with final results becoming more apparent in the weeks and months following surgery. That’s why patience is key after the procedure.

Initially, patients will notice a decent amount of swelling after the procedure. However, as time goes by, the swelling will subside, allowing patients to see their new facial aesthetic

How much does jaw surgery cost?

While jaw surgery is common, it can be fairly complicated. It is for this reason that it often carries a hefty price tag. Other factors that can influence the cost of orthognathic surgery include:

  • Your geographic location
  • Your surgeon’s experience
  • Hospital fees

On average, patients can expect costs to range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. While this can give some people “sticker shock,” it’s crucial to consider this investment in the context of the long-term benefits that patients experience in both function and aesthetics. 

Will insurance cover orthognathic surgery?

Insurance coverage often depends on the severity of the case and whether or not the insurance provider deems it medically necessary. Some insurance plans cover a portion or the entirety of the cost if the surgery is considered medically necessary to address functional issues. 

We strongly advise patients to contact their insurance providers and work closely with their healthcare team to understand their financial commitments. If you need help understanding your benefits, be sure to ask your healthcare team. 

Is orthognathic surgery worth it?

Deciding whether orthognathic surgery is worth it is a deeply personal choice. For individuals facing functional impairments, significant aesthetic concerns, or both, orthognathic surgery can be a life-changing and worthwhile investment in overall well-being. 

According to many patients, there are a myriad of transformative benefits to this procedure, including:

  • Improved self-confidence
  • Enhanced facial harmony
  • Reduced orofacial pain
  • A better quality of life 

Correct Jaw Issues with a Dentist in Sacramento, CA

Orthognathic surgery is a life-transforming solution for those dealing with jaw misalignment issues. Consulting with a qualified dental expert is crucial in navigating this transformative journey and unlocking the full potential of jaw surgery. If you’re ready to explore this procedure, contact Timothy E. Mickiewicz, D.D.S., today. You can reach our Sacramento dentist online anytime, or you can call (916) 469-9178 for more information.