UNEQUAL JAW GROWTH-A CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Jaw growth is a slow and gradual process. Occasionally, something may go wrong with this process and the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. One or both jaws may grow too much or too little. The resulting abnormality may interfere with proper teeth alignment, speaking and chewing. The tongue and lips may be forced to move awkwardly during speech and swallowing in an attempt to compensate for the jaw malrelationship. There may be a speech defect or excessive mouth breathing.
An improper bite may threaten the long-term health of the gums and teeth. The jaw joint (TMJ) can also be adversely affected by a jaw mal-relationship. In addition, jaws of different sizes-that don’t match-can affect appearance.
WHAT IS ORTHOGNATHIC SURGERY?
Orthognathic surgery is sometimes called “Surgical Orthodontics” because, just as an orthodontist repositions teeth, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon uses orthognathic surgery to reposition one or both jaws. Just as “orthodontics” means “straight teeth,” “orthognathic” means “straight jaws.” In fact, because moving the jaws also moves the teeth, orthognathic surgery is usually performed in conjunction with orthodontics so that the teeth are in proper position after surgery. The objective of orthognathic surgery is the correction of a wide range of minor and major facial and jaw irregularities, and benefits include an improved ability to chew, speak and breathe. In many cases an enhanced appearance may also result.
WHO NEEDS ORTHOGNATHIC SURGERY?
People who can potentially benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite and those with jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a slow and gradual process, and in some instances, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that can affect chewing function, speech, long-term oral health, and appearance. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. While orthodontics alone can correct many “bite” problems if only the teeth are involved, orthognathic surgery may be required if the jaws also need repositioning.