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What Is a Mandibular Osteotomy?

A mandibular osteotomy is a transformative surgical procedure that repositions the lower jaw to improve alignment, function, and appearance. By carefully cutting and realigning the jawbone, it can dramatically enhance one's quality of life. Intrigued by how this intricate surgery can reshape lives? Discover the step-by-step journey and real-life transformations through vivid imagery in our full article. Ready to see the change?
T. Broderick
T. Broderick

Mandibular osteotomy is a surgical procedure performed to realign the jawbone, or mandible. Though a number of reasons make mandibular osteotomy necessary, the two most common are a broken mandible and congenital mandible deformations that are either cosmetically unappealing or affect the functions of eating and/or speaking. To avoid unsightly facial scars, the operation is done primarily done through incisions within the mouth; small incisions done on the face to insert pins are not uncommon, though. After a healing process that lasts a few weeks, the jaw is permanently aligned and the patient can live a more normal life.

A broken or malformed mandible are the two main reasons individuals require a mandibular osteotomy. The latter case is more common. A patient with a malformed jaw may notice difficulty eating or speaking. Though rarely life-threatening, these symptoms along with a possible physical deformation is a factor in the decision to have corrective surgery. In other cases, surgery is recommended by a dentist or orthodontist who notices a misalignment of a patient's teeth.

Oral surgery may be required to realign the jawbone or mandible.
Oral surgery may be required to realign the jawbone or mandible.

Though elective surgery, a mandibular osteotomy requires hospitalization before the procedure. After the patient is under anesthesia, a surgeon makes cuts into the gums to expose the mandible. The surgeon uses a saw to cut the mandible in a controlled break. Only with a broken jaw can the surgeon correctly align it to the skull. After alignment, a series of pins and plates keep the mandible in place. The operation ends when the surgeon stitches up the gums with thread that dissolves a few weeks after surgery.

A patient will be put under using anesthesia during a mandibular osteotomy.
A patient will be put under using anesthesia during a mandibular osteotomy.

After a mandibular osteotomy, a patient recovers in the hospital for one to two days before returning home. Post-operative x-rays confirm whether or not the surgery was successful. Recovery can be somewhat painful, and the patient will not be able to eat solid food for some time. Prescription painkillers may be necessary for the first few days after surgery. Talking and moving the jaw may be difficult from a few days to a few weeks.

Postoperative X-rays will be taken to determine if the mandibular osteotomy was successful.
Postoperative X-rays will be taken to determine if the mandibular osteotomy was successful.

When a patient returns home, post-operative recovery becomes his or her responsibility. As the gums heal, regular antibiotic rinses may be necessary to prevent infection. Even then, it is not uncommon for patients to experience some bleeding. Though the time varies among patients, one must abstain from work for two to three weeks. Excessive talking or any activity that moves the jaw can complicate and/or extend one's recovery time.

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    • Oral surgery may be required to realign the jawbone or mandible.
      By: Georgiy Pashin
      Oral surgery may be required to realign the jawbone or mandible.
    • A patient will be put under using anesthesia during a mandibular osteotomy.
      By: Tyler Olson
      A patient will be put under using anesthesia during a mandibular osteotomy.
    • Postoperative X-rays will be taken to determine if the mandibular osteotomy was successful.
      By: Andrey Armyagov
      Postoperative X-rays will be taken to determine if the mandibular osteotomy was successful.
    • A patient with a malformed jaw may have difficulty eating.
      By: Boggy
      A patient with a malformed jaw may have difficulty eating.
    • A mandibular osteotomy requires hospitalization before the procedure.
      By: iceteastock
      A mandibular osteotomy requires hospitalization before the procedure.
    • Mandibular osteotomy is a surgical procedure performed to realign the jawbone.
      By: snapgalleria
      Mandibular osteotomy is a surgical procedure performed to realign the jawbone.
    • A mandibular osteotomy may be recommended by a dentist who notices a misalignment of a patient's teeth.
      By: michaeljung
      A mandibular osteotomy may be recommended by a dentist who notices a misalignment of a patient's teeth.