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What Is Orthognathic Surgery?

The term orthognathic comes from the Greek words “orthos” meaning straighten and “gnathic” meaning of or related to the jaw. Hence the term orthognathic, meaning “straighten the jaw.” In today’s medical world, this term talks specifically to the surgical treatment aimed at straightening and/or realigning of the jaws. Many of you probably know a friend or two that has undergone orthognathic surgery. He or she may have told you that they were “having their jaw fixed,” or they may have stated that they were “having their jaw broken.” At the time, you may have asked yourself why this person was subjecting themselves to such a seemingly brutal surgery and were too bashful to ask. In this section, we will give you an overview of what this friend was talking about. In addition, we will try to give you some insight into the personal motivations of that patient and how they often evolve to a excitement and enthusiasm about treatment

Who Is A Candidate For Orthognathic Surgery?

Most individuals who would become orthognathic surgical patients are aware of their problem prior to the diagnosis. It is common, however, for that patient to be unaware of the current options that are available to treat their condition. In addition, they may have been misled to think that treatment is barbaric and only reserved for the worst of circumstances (the other guy or gal). How do we become candidates for orthognathic surgery? As our jaws mature through the course of normal growth and development (i.e. adolescence), it is possible for the growth of the jaws to cease or to come to completion leaving a disharmony of function and esthetics.

For any number of reasons the jaws can, at that time, remain disproportionate in size and shape. The cause of this disharmony and disproportionality is often important when determining a final treatment plan and can be a result of any or all the following:

  1. An unfavorable genetic expression of growth (most common)
  2. A history of trauma
  3. An abnormal or exuberant activity of a growth center from an unknown cause (e.g., the TMJ region)
  4. Tumor or other pathology
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