Orthognathic surgery is often a choice, which may offer personal and psychological benefit but not be a medical necessity. There are still exceptions and looking at related research could help.
From the studies considered, our general principle of non necessity looks rational. There is still a need to accept that every case is unique and individual diagnosis is the key, to decide whether medical needs apply.
Sleep apnoea is an example, where orthognathic surgery can be chosen to assist. This does not mean the operation would help everyone with the condition, or that many of those seeking orthognathic surgery have airway problems.
Within a wider publication on dentofacial deformity, results featured from a number of studies on orthognathic surgery and breathing. The author highlights measurement difficulties and describes the results as mixed.
No significant change prevailed, although there were cases which showed breathing benefits. They may have derived from improved airflow and greater air contact with the oral mucosa.
A more precise study focused on cleft palate surgery, a form of orthognathic care. Also one where medical advantages might be more likely to be seen, compared to more traditional cases.
Research results were again mixed, “orthognathic surgery modifies speech nasalance of some subjects with cleft, perhaps because of an increase in internal nose size. This may also improve nasal patency for breathing.”
Another study looked solely at the effects of orthognathic surgery on speech, in non-cleft individuals. In depth in a sense, from 20 years of medical database entries, yet by nature lacking precision and controls.
They did not identify clear evidence linking orthognathic surgery to correcting speech discrepancies. We should however bear in mind that patients concerned may not have had, or reported speech issues.
There were still benefits for a percentage of patients and the core conclusion was a need for further research. An issue with this remains the variation in individual rationale for choosing orthognathic surgery.
Jaw deformity can be detrimental to breathing, or clear speech, cases exist where infection is increased, or hearing lessened. Pain in the jaw can be caused, or difficulty chewing food.
The key point is that a causal link is less than common. If you have a condition which you feel may be linked to jaw deformity, this should be discussed with a maxillofacial consultant, investigated through science and knowledge.
If there is a case for surgery to your jaw making a medical difference, that could be valuable. The critical need remains for every medical professional not to create the wrong expectations.
Neither is there anything wrong with choosing orthognathic surgery for personal, aesthetic reasons. This can be life changing for people who are affected by their appearance.
As a Harley Street centre offering this specialist care, we still go with the principle that the majority of those referred to, or visiting our clinic are not medically focused cases.
All medical issues, or benefits are however investigated in detail and discussed. Orthognathic surgery by nature is unique for each patient, no two jaws, or the people they belong to are the same.
Treatment should also be to an exceptional standard, for such a key area. For medical, or personal reasons, a change to your face deserves the finest care.