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What is orthognathic surgery for sleep apnea?

Jaw surgery, scientifically known as orthognathic surgery, is renowned for addressing various issues, including TMJ disorders, speech impediments, overbites, underbites, and cosmetic concerns such as protruding jaws or small chins. Interestingly, it can also be remarkably effective in treating respiratory issues, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Recent research indicates that orthognathic surgery boasts a success rate exceeding 90% when it comes to treating sleep apnea. Different variations of orthognathic or jaw surgery exist, but one, in particular, stands out: Maxillomandibular advancement. This procedure involves shifting both the upper (maxilla) and lower (mandible) jaws forward to enlarge the airway, offering the most significant improvement in sleep apnea treatment. While the recovery period is typically longer than other procedures and entails unique potential risks, maxillomandibular advancement is often chosen for patients who haven’t experienced sufficient relief from sleep apnea through alternative methods. However, for individuals with jaw irregularities, it can be an initial surgical option. In cases of severe sleep apnea, maxillomandibular advancement surgery boasts an average success rate of nearly 90% in reducing AHI levels (Apnea-Hypopnea Index, a measure of sleep apnea severity, counting temporary breathing cessations per hour of sleep).


What does orthognathic surgery entail?

Orthognathic surgery takes place in an operating room under general anesthesia, with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon usually working in collaboration with an orthodontist. Precise coordination is crucial to ensure the correct alignment of the jaws and teeth post-surgery. The alignment progress is meticulously monitored through the utilization of X-rays, photographs, and dental models. During the surgery, all incisions are made inside the mouth. Special instruments are employed to free both the upper and lower jaws, allowing them to be advanced simultaneously. Titanium plates and screws are utilized to secure the jaws in their new positions. Depending on individual requirements, jawbones may undergo restructuring, realignment, augmentation, or removal. Orthodontic treatment is frequently carried out concurrently. Large braces, referred to as arch bars, are affixed to the teeth. Typically, the jaws aren’t wired together, although rubber bands are often employed to aid in maintaining a stable bite throughout the healing process. Following the procedure, our team will provide detailed instructions for post-surgical care and follow-up. Patients will need to adhere to a soft diet and should avoid chewing solid foods for four to six weeks.


To learn more about Orthognathic surgery and how it can help with sleep apnea please contact us


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