Orthognathic surgery is a corrective jaw surgery that straightens or realigns your jaw, and corrects related skeletal deformities that a patient may need. At minimum, orthognathic surgery cost includes surgeon fees, hospital fees, orthodontic charges, anaesthesia fees and pain medications. However, final expenses may depend on a number of conditions unique to the person.
This type of surgery, done by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) in a hospital setting, involves straightening and realigning the jaws using surgical plates or templates, screws and wires.
Why would you invest in this treatment? The main purpose is to correct a severe malocclusion (improper bite) that may be causing functional problems in daily behaviour, such as speech, chewing food or even sleep apnea. You might also experience headaches, joint pain or periodontal (gum) discomfort. According to The South African Society of Maxillo for Facial & Oral Surgeons, the following conditions may also prompt a need for orthognathic surgery:
- Difficulty in chewing or biting food
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Excessive wearing of teeth
- Open bite (the front teeth don't meet)
- Facial injury
- Cleft lip and palate
- Receding chin
- Pronounced and or asymmetric lower jaw
- Inability to make lips meet without effort
- Chronic mouth breathing with dry lips and mouth with bleeding gums
Although children may have certain birth conditions or orthodontic problems eventually requiring jaw surgery, it is generally appropriate only after they stop growing. That age is usually around 13 to 15 for girls and 16 to 18 for boys. Nonetheless, early detection and treatment of a child's orthodontic problems can often prevent the need for surgery altogether.
Usually, you wear braces for nine to 18 months before the surgery. After your jaw recovers from the surgery, your orthodontist finishes aligning your teeth and eventually removes the braces. The entire orthodontic process, including surgery, may take one to three years.
The surgery usually takes one to three hours, and requires general anaesthesia, which tends to carry the risks of any major treatment. These risks include pain, swelling, bleeding, infection and adverse reaction to anaesthesia. More involved processes can theoretically damage nearby bone or gums, and the anaesthetic itself may cause numbness in similar areas. You typically stay in the hospital for one to two days, and have a six-week at-home recovery time. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions for home-based oral care, which, for children, typically includes brushing after every meal using a small, gentle kids' toothbrush.
Without health insurance orthognathic surgery is not a cheap procedure. This will of course depend on your dental provider. Beyond orthodontics, other factors that can sway the cost include severity of the jaw misalignment and what type of surgery is required. Your location, the hospital treating you and complications during care can all make a difference as well.
In general, corrective jaw surgery is considered a medical procedure, not a cosmetic procedure, and is necessary to prevent more expensive medical and dental problems later in life. For this reason, some health insurance policies cover at least part of the cost of orthognathic surgery.
However you look to meet these requirements, explore any necessary pre-approvals and understand what your insurance will and will not pay for prior to treatment.