Corrective Jaw Surgery
(Orthognathic Surgery; Maxillofacial Surgery; Maxillary Osteotomy; Mandibular Osteotomy)
Corrective jaw surgery will reshape or reposition the jaw bones. The surgery may be done on the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. This surgery may also be called:
Reasons for Procedure
This surgery is done to correct a problem of the jaw bone.
The jaw is the platform for the teeth. Certain jaw problems make it difficult for the upper and lower teeth to line up correctly. The misalignment can cause:
The surgery may also be done to repair cosmetic problems. This may include receding chin, protruding jaw, or lips that don’t meet. It may also be done to repair problems from:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of problems include:
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The change in your jaw will require a change in the position of your teeth. To prepare your teeth for the surgery you may have several months of dental care. Your dentist may use braces or similar tools to help shift your teeth into the correct position.
Closer to your surgery you may have x-ray and models of your teeth done. This will help guide surgical work.
Talk to your doctor if you take any medicines, herbs, or supplements. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
You may be asked to not eat or drink anything starting the night before your surgery.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
Description of the Procedure
The exact procedure will depend on your specific needs. Most incisions will be made inside the mouth. Some incisions may need to be made outside of the mouth.
The specific work done on the bones will depend on your needs. Some steps may include:
The bones will be adjusted until the upper and lower teeth are lined up.
The incisions may be closed with stitches or a special liquid that acts like glue. Gauze may be placed over the surgical wounds. The gauze will stay in place for a few hours after surgery. Rubber bands may also be used with a dental appliance. They will help keep your jaw in alignment until your jaw heals.
Immediately After Procedure
After the operation, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. The gauze may be removed once you wake up.
Ice may be placed around your jaw to decrease swelling.
How Long Will It Take?
The length of surgery will depend on the changes made to your jaw. It may be 2-4 hours.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. As you recover, you may have some pain. Your doctor will give you medicine to manage any pain.
Average Hospital Stay
You may need to stay in the hospital for 2-5 days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
You will be asked to start with a modified diet. Depending on the details of your surgery, your doctor may recommend just liquids at first or soft solids. You will be given a schedule to work back toward your normal diet.
You will be able to notice cosmetic change immediately. Your jaw will need to heal before you can do normal movements. As a result, it may take some time to feel the improvements in bite or jaw movement. Your bone should heal in about 6 weeks. It will take about 9-12 months before the jaw heals completely.
When you return home, take these steps:
You may have discomfort in your teeth, ears, and jaw. Your doctor may recommend:
Ask your doctor when it is safe to return to school or work. It may be one to three weeks before you return to normal activities.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Periodontology
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Corrective Jaw Surgery. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Available at: http://www.aaoms.o.... Accessed August 23, 2012.
Home care after surgery. Fallon Oral Surgery of Syracuse. Available at: http://www.fallono.... Accessed August 23, 2012.
Jaw Surgery. University of Pennsylvania Health System—Plastic Surgery. Available at: http://www.pennmedicine.org/plasticsurgery/recon/jaw.html. Accessed August 23, 2012.
Orthognathic surgery. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Standford. Available at: https://www.lpch.o.... Accessed August 23, 2012.
Orthognathic surgery. Harvard Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Available at: https://www2.massgeneral.org/homfs/procedures_orthognathic.asp. Accessed August 23, 2012.
Oral wound care after Mohs Surgery. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Available at: http://www.uwhealt.... Accessed August 23, 2012.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Igor Puzanov, MD; Brian Randall, MD