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Jaw Surgery Alignment

If your orthodontist needs to correct the position of your teeth and improve the function of your bite, they may recommend jaw surgery alongside orthodontic treatment.

Jaw surgery is only needed in severe cases, for example, if you have previously suffered a facial injury or have long-standing issues with your jaw. It’s commonly referred to as orthognathic surgery or corrective jaw surgery.

Although it sounds daunting, your orthodontist will talk you through everything before you start treatment and can answer any questions you might have.

What does the surgery involve ?

Having braces fitted

Having your surgery

What are the side-effects of jaw alignment surgery?

It’s completely normal to have some swelling and bruising after the operation, which should subside over the first three or four weeks.

It’s common to experience some numbness of the lower lip for a few weeks or months after jaw surgery. In a very small number of cases, the numbness can be permanent. It won’t affect the movement of your lips, only the feeling in them – in a similar way to having an injection at the dentist.

As with any operation, you’ll have to take it easy for the first week or two afterwards. You may need to stay off work, or your child may need to stay off school, for up to six weeks depending on how long your recovery takes. If you’re worried about the side effects of jaw surgery, speak to your orthodontist who will be able to advise you.

Will I look different after the surgery?

As the surgery is carried out inside your mouth, you’ll have no visible scars. However, you may look different to some degree. This will depend on how severe your jaw issues are and, therefore, how much your jaws need to be moved. Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or orthodontist, will discuss this with you beforehand.

Fixed Metal Braces

Fixed metal braces are made up of wires, attached to metal brackets, that are bonded to the outer surface of each tooth. Fixed metal braces are available privately and sometimes to children under 18 who qualify for NHS.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces work the same way as other fixed braces but the brackets are attached to the inside of your teeth. For this reason, they are also known as hidden braces or braces behind teeth used in many industries these days.

Fixed Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces, also known as clear braces, are a more discreet option than metal braces. Clear brackets are attached to the outer surface of each tooth and are linked by metal or tooth-coloured wires with more comfort.

See your orthodontist and general dentist regularly: You’ll need to see your orthodontist regularly during your treatment and leading up to your surgery, so they can adjust your brace. It’s also important you maintain check-ups with your regular dentist as they can check your teeth for any signs of tooth decay and keep an eye on your general oral health.

Stop smoking: Smoking poses a risk to both your oral and general health. If you smoke before and after your surgery, you’re at greater risk of developing post-operative complications, such as an infection. It’s important to try and give up before you have jaw surgery.

Be careful what you eat and drink: Once you’ve had your brace fitted, you need to be careful about what you eat. You should avoid:

  • Toffees, boiled sweets, chewing gum containing sugar and chocolate bars
  • Fizzy drinks, including diet drinks, and excessive amounts of fruit juice (generally no more than one small glass per day)
  • Hard foods that might damage your brace, such as crunchy apples and crusty bread rolls. If you do eat hard foods, cut them up into small pieces first

After the operation, you’ll need to follow a soft diet for the first few weeks. The dietician at the hospital will advise you on this nearer the time.

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What to expect