Orthognathic Surgery (Jaw Surgery)

Orthognathic surgery is needed when the upper and lower teeth do not meet correctly. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics and corrective jaw surgery repositions the upper and lower jaws to interdigitate the teeth.

Who Needs Orthognathic Surgery?

The upper and lower jaws may not align do to congenital birth defects, trauma or uneven growth. Jaw growth is a gradual process and uneven growth usually becomes apparent through the childhood and teen years. This can result in a host of problems that affect chewing function, speech, long-term periodontal health, loss of teeth and appearance. The lack of forward jaw growth has been shown to be one of the major causes of obstructive sleep apnea.

Before any treatment begins a consultation will allow a complete examination, radiographs and a general discussion of the proposed surgery. Communication and coordination with the orthodontist ensures proper dental alignment to allow the oral surgeon to interdigitate the teeth with the surgical movement of the jaws. Orthodontic alignment typically takes a year prior to surgery and six months of orthodontics after surgery.

Surgical Procedure

Upper and lower orthognathic surgery is commonly done in a hospital setting. Lower jaw surgery can be done in the operating room of the surgery center, however all upper surgery must be done in a hospital. Usually the hospital stay is overnight or one day and involves little pain because the nerves are numb after surgery for several weeks. Patients no longer need to have their teeth wired together for six weeks due to the use of titanium plates and screws. This is the same titanium used for dental tooth implants. These plates usually do not need to be removed. Time off from daily activities/work is usually five to ten days depending on the degree and type of surgery. The patient is carefully followed immediately after surgery and thereafter until the orthodontic braces have been removed.