Corrective Jaw Surgery

Oral & maxillofacial surgeons correct a wide range of minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities using corrective jaw or orthognathic, surgery. Other procedures include alignment of the jaws and teeth, which improves chewing, speaking and breathing. Orthognathic surgery is performed to correct functional problems, but can also result in an enhanced appearance.

Conditions for Corrective Jaw Surgery:

  • difficulty chewing, or biting food
  • difficulty swallowing
  • chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
  • excessive wear of the teeth
  • open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
  • unbalanced facial appearance from the front, or side
  • facial injury or birth defects
  • receding chin
  • protruding jaw
  • inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)
Corrective jaw surgery benefits those with an improper bite/misaligned teeth or jaws, injuries and birth defects.
In order to have corrective jaw or orthognathic, surgery, your dentist, orthodontist and oral & maxillofacial surgeon will have to determine if you are a candidate. If you are, the oral & maxillofacial Surgeon chooses the appropriate procedure and performs the surgery. Most treatments include orthodontics before and after surgery and may take several years to complete.


Correcting an open bite


Correcting a protruding lower jaw


Correcting a receding lower jaw

All or part all of the upper jaw, lower jaw and chin may be re-positioned by corrective jaw surgery. You and your dental team will determine the best treatment option for you.

Orthodontic braces are used to move teeth into a new position before your surgery. You may feel your bite is getting worse rather than better, but when your oral and maxillofacial surgeon re-positions your jaw during surgery, your teeth should fit together properly.

Additional or updated records, including x-rays, pictures and models of your teeth, may be taken to help guide your surgery as your pre-surgical orthodontic treatment nears completion.

Corrective jaw surgery may be performed under general anesthesia in a hospital, ambulatory surgical center or oral & maxillofacial surgery office. Surgery can last one to several hours to complete.

The re-position of the jawbones is decided in accordance with your specific needs by your oral & maxillofacial surgeon. Sometimes bone may be added, taken away or reshaped. In order to hold the jaw in a new position, surgical plates, screws, wires and rubber bands may be used. Incisions are usually made inside the mouth to reduce visible scarring.

You will be provided with instructions for a modified diet (including solids and liquids, as well as a schedule for transitioning to a normal diet) and may be asked to refrain from tobacco products or avoid strenuous activity after surgery.

Medication easily controls pain after corrective jaw surgery. Patients are generally able to return to work or school from one to three weeks after surgery. The initial healing phase is about six weeks, while the complete healing of the jaws takes between nine and 12 months.