Corrective Jaw (Orthognathic) Surgery FAQs Washington

Answer to Common Questions About Corrective Jaw Surgery in Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, & Woodinville WA

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Who needs orthognathic surgery?

Patients whose teeth don’t bite correctly, underbites (class III malocclusion), overbites (class II malocclusion), open bite (where the front teeth don’t touch and can’t cut food or any teeth don’t touch when the teeth are biting together) and other bad bites (malocclusions) such as cross bites. Orthognathic surgery is also done to move the bones of the face to correct skeletal deformities which may be causing problems. One such problem is obstructive sleep apnea. Moving the jaws can open the airway and help the patient breath. It can also correct facial disharmonies such as lip incompetence or unaesthetic smiles.

What are the benefits?

Improvement in the occlusion (bite) of the teeth and function of the jaws is the most common benefit. But other benefits include improved airway, lip function, overall oral health, correction of obstructive sleep apnea, and improved facial appearance and speech.

What if I need it but don’t want to have it done?

There may be some orthodontic (tooth movements) that could compensate for the malocclusion partially. These changes may produce undesirable effects, such as, periodontal recession, improper tooth wear and unattractive facial changes. Careful consideration of the entire dento-facial complex is important in reaching a decision.

What is involved?

Evaluation by our team consists of history, physical exam, special x-rays and cephalometric work-up (measurement of the face and jaw bone). Also, evaluation by an orthodontist is needed because braces are part of the treatment.

Who can have it done?

Almost anyone. Some serious medical conditions may make the risk outweigh the benefits. Our team can give you a complete risk assessment at the time of consultation.

How long is surgery?

The surgery can range from 1 1/2 to 6 hours depending on the various type of surgical procedures involved. There may be several types of procedures involved in the surgery.

How long is the whole process?

About 2 years. The first step is 6 months to a year of pre-surgical orthodontics to set up the jaw and teeth for the surgery. Next the surgery takes place with approximately 3 months of healing along with post-surgical orthodontics which is completed over 3 months to a year.

Is it painful?

Post surgical pain is significant but it is well controlled by strong pain medicines, however, pain medicine is rarely needed after 10 days.

How long do you have to take off from work or school etc?

Two weeks of free time is needed for post-surgical recovery. Some patients are able to return to semi-normal activities in only one week.

Does it ever relapse?

Yes. There is a chance that a type of arthritis in the joint can cause loss of bone that will change the bite. Carefully following post-operative instructions and regular follow-up is important.

What if it doesn’t turn out right?

If the planned surgical goals are not met then the patient may be taken back to surgery early in the post-operative period to improve the outcome. Our doctors and staff have the most advanced and modern imaging equipment and models to determine the patient’s needs prior to surgery so that the best results possible can be performed. Countless orthognathic patients have experienced exceptional results with their surgeries performed at Washington Jaw & Facial Surgery.

What are the restrictions of my activities after surgery?

Each patient varies depending on the surgery that was performed, however, after six months prior to surgery, there are few restrictions and the bones will be fully mature at the two year mark. Typically with our patients, there are no restrictions after six months.

How much does it cost?

Depending on the complexity of the case, it can cost from $7,000.00 to $60,000.00 which includes all costs (hospital, surgical, hardware, and orthodontic). We try our best to give you an accurate estimate of all the costs (several of which are not under our control).

Does medical insurance cover it?

Depending on the case, medical insurance will sometimes cover costs of orthognathic surgery. We make exceptional efforts to help the patient retrieve insurance benefits.

What do I do if my child has had an accident and his/her tooth has been entirely knocked out…especially if it is outside of your regular hours?

Call us as soon as possible for facial and dental trauma – if it is after office hours, ask that the doctor be called. If you’re calling after regular office hours, ask that the doctor be paged. To preserve the tooth until you can see us, put it in a glass of milk (it sounds strange, but it works). We may be able to replace and stabilize the tooth. If that’s not possible, we can suggest treatment options – such as dental implants – for permanent replacements.

What kind of dental specialist should I see?

If you needed heart surgery, wouldn’t you want to see a cardiologist, or a dermatologist for a concern about a mole? Dental care providers work under individual specialties, just like in medicine. Here are some examples that may help you determine what type of dental specialist to seek:

  • Cleanings, routine check-ups, fillings, etc. -General Dentist
  • Root canals- Endodontist
  • Gum Disease- Periodontist
  • Braces / Orthodontics- Orthodontist
  • Children’s routine dentistry- Pedodontist
  • Dentures, Partials, etc.- Prosthodontist
  • Dental Implants, Wisdom teeth removal, biopsies, tooth extractions, etc.- An Oral Surgeon

Whatever type of care you seek, be sure to select someone who does those types of procedures on a daily basis and has the experience and training to deliver the quality of care you deserve.

How is appearance affected by bone deterioration, also known as resorption, and missing teeth?

Most people are not aware of the relationship between their teeth and the bone that supports them, so they don’t realize the impact tooth loss is having on their facial appearance. The teeth as well as the upper and lower jaws provide structural support for facial contours. Any change tooth loss causes in any of the underlying structures will impact facial features. Whenever one or more teeth are missing, the bone that previously supported the tooth or teeth begins to deteriorate or resorb. This is known as bone resorption and is very similar to muscle atrophy from lack of use. Missing teeth commonly result in dramatic changes to facial appearance, including an increased number of wrinkles around the mouth and lips that cave in and lose their shape. In more severe cases, complete tooth loss can result in unsightly total collapse of the facial structures. When all of the teeth are missing, the jaws also tend to deteriorate rapidly. As the bone melts away, the muscles are affected and pull back from their original position. Wrinkles can increase dramatically as the facial structures collapse; and, the appearance of the cheeks becomes distorted. Severe bone deterioration results in what is sometimes called “the witch’s beak,” where the nose points downward and the chin points upward as a result of lost jaw height. The process spreads as the lips cave in as they lose their support, giving the mouth a flattened look. Premature aging that occurs as the bone continues to melt away is and further accentuated.

What exactly is jaw reconstruction?

Jaw reconstruction, or orthognathic surgery, involves reshaping a patient’s face to correct facial or jaw abnormalities. During this specialty surgery, the doctor changes the position of the jaw to improve its function (chewing and speaking) and appearance. We often perform jaw reconstruction surgery in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.

For more information about Corrective Jaw Surgery or to schedule a consultation with Drs. Guo, Obenchain or Cho, call our office in Bellevue, WA at Bellevue Office Phone Number 425-453-6975.