Upper jaw expansion surgery is performed to treat a narrow upper jaw prior to orthodontic treatment

Patients who undergo upper jaw expansion surgery generally do so in conjunction with their orthodontic treatment plan. Often referred to as Surgically Assisted Maxillary Expansion (SAME), upper jaw expansions surgery is performed to increase the size of the upper jaw after patients have finished growing and their jaw is too narrow to accommodate for their proposed orthodontic treatment.

Patients who have a crossbite, crooked teeth or crowded teeth due to a narrow jaw, and would like to receive orthodontic treatment may not be able to without the extracting some of the effected teeth. In order to prevent this, widening of the jaw must occur prior to the commencement of orthodontic treatment.

The upper jaw expansion procedure

Upper jaw expansion surgery involves multiple bone cuts is specific areas of the upper jaw to separate the patients upper jaw into segments that can be positioned effectively. This will help to achieve a symmetrical expansion of the upper jaw. An expansion device is fitted and following a recovery period of approximately three days, you will begin the process of jaw expansion using the expansion device.

This process may take a few months and your surgeon and orthodontist will closely monitor progress. The expansion is done slowly to accommodate the new width and over this time, you will notice a visible gap develop between the front teeth due to the bones being separated. Once the appropriate amount of expansion is reached, expansion stops and the device will be left in the mouth for several months to allow the bone to heal. Once fully healed, orthodontic treatment, such as braces can begin.

Upper jaw expansion surgery recovery

This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic, meaning you may need to spend a short amount of time being monitored in hospital. Once you have been discharged from hospital, you will be prescribed medication to help manage pain and infection.

As you will have an expander fitted, it is very important to practice effective oral hygiene and maintenance at home. After each meal and after snacks, you should brush your teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush. Some patients find that using a children’s toothbrush can help them get between crevices around the expander. Avoid brushing around the site of the incision until it has fully healed. To wash this area, rinse a solution of warm salt water around your mouth after you brush. Your surgeon will advise you on the best way to look after your oral health.

Applying cold packs to the jaw can help to reduce swelling in the days following surgery. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, but avoid using a straw. It is best to stick to a blended, liquid diet for the first few weeks with solids foods allowed, only if they are soft. If you need help, your surgeon can provide advice.

Upper jaw expansion surgery at OMFS in Melbourne

If you have been referred for upper jaw expansion surgery, fill out our patient registration form here!