“Each year it is estimated that around 3,000 people have orthognathic treatment with an overwhelming 90% saying it has dramatically improved their health and wellbeing. The BOS is campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of orthognathic treatment to patients with congenital conditions or dentofacial anomalies. The BOS wants to see NHS funding maintained for a procedure which has a dramatic and positive life-changing impact on the lives of patients.”
Orthognathic treatment (orthodontics combined with jaw surgery) is an unfamiliar term to most people. It is used in the treatment of adult patients with congenital conditions, like cleft palate, as well as patients who have difficulties in breathing while asleep or difficulties in eating due to skeletal issues. Carried out jointly by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon - dually qualified in medicine and dentistry – and an orthodontist, its purpose is to move the teeth and jaws into positions that are more balanced, functional and healthy, enabling patients to eat and breathe without restriction.
It’s important that the patient has ceased growing in order to produce a stable result so most treatments are provided to adult patients. The BOS has developed an Index of Functional Treatment Need to identify patients who would benefit most from treatment. If the patient falls within a level of need deemed by this index to benefit them then treatment should be available on the NHS.
Many patients who have severe jaw discrepancies also suffer from psycho-social problems due to having been teased or disadvantaged by their appearance. The results of orthognathic treatment can have a dramatic and positive effect on many aspects of life with increased self-esteem and confidence. There is very good research to show that the benefit to patients is long-lasting.
The BOS together with the Royal College of Surgeons have campaigned vigorously over the last few years to try to ensure there is parity for patients across the whole of the UK- to prevent there being a postcode lottery. NHS England has responded positively and it is hoped that irregularities in commissioning will be a thing of the past.