Monday, April 4, 2011

Mandibular Advancement

I finally made an appointment for Thursday to have a consult for jaw surgery. With these guys.

I have always had a bad overbite. So bad, in fact, that I can actually stick out my tongue a good centimeter, even when my mouth is closed. It really has nothing to do with my teeth alignment, and everything to do with having a "short" jaw. When I got braces over 2 years ago, my orthodontist recommended having this surgery done. And so has every dentist I've ever seen. But I've disregarded the advice mainly for one reason: the price tag. It is an expensive surgery, and one that is rarely covered by insurance. But I often think about what life would be like if I went ahead and had the surgery. Because my jaw is so short, I am constantly sliding it forward to talk, bite into food, smile, and simply because I think it looks better. Then to chew food, I have to slide it back to it's "original" position so that my molars can meet. All of this sliding back and forth causes unnatural strain on my jaw, which causes inflammation, tightening of the muscles, clicking and popping of the joint, and almost always some level of pain. Once it high school, the joint was so irritated that I had lockjaw (not to be confused with tetanus) and couldn't open my mouth more than a knuckle's width for almost three months.

Orthognathic surgery is a broad term relating to the reconstruction or realignment of the jaw (mandible) or lower face (maxila). What we are considering is Mandibular Advancement: to "lengthen" my short jaw, which would relieve the stress of my jaw (temporomandibular) joint, and allow for better (and hopefully pain-free) eating, talking, sleeping (the short jaw puts pressure on my airway), and possibly even help with the frequency of my migraines.

This video is a great 30 second clip that explains the surgery well. And really, that bite is just about exactly what mine looks like.

Yes, they would be sawing my jaw in two. Sounds like medieval torture. The recovery looks hard, and the risks look scary. The mouth would have to be wired shut for a month while the jaw heals, and that just sound miserable. And then there's the possible nerve damage from the large nerve having to stretch so much, and there's even the chance that the joint pain wouldn't improve much.

So this really is a tough one to figure out. I'm hoping that the consult will go well and answer our questions.


  1. Very informative video. But, tough decision. Looks like a good thing too have done, but how tough would the recovery be?

  2. From what I've found on random blogs, it looks like the recovery could be pretty rough. General anesthesia can make you groggy for days, I would have a very bruised and swollen face for about two weeks, I would be on a slurp-it-through my teeth diet for a month while my mouth is essentially wired shut (fun times talking, I'm sure), and then it would be two more months after that before I could eat "normal" foods again. At least that's what I've seen from my online research. I'm hoping the consult will tell us more. But honestly, the recovery doesn't sound as bad as the price tag. So if we can't get insurance on board, I just don't know how it would even be an option.

  3. hi guys,
    i´ve seen your posts. i will be given a low-jow surgery in September. As far as I was informed by my surgeon immediately after surgery i could open my mouth and eat ( of course with some restrictions ) normally and i will be spending about 3 days in hospital ( if no complication occurs ).
    About the cost of it- i am not aware of the price ( my insurance pays the bill ). Does anyone know the price of such a surgery ?
    Tomas ( the Netherlands )