Orthognathic Surgery

What is Orthognathic Surgery?

The above procedures have a name: it’s called Orthognathic surgery. Essentially the surgical procedure allows the oral and maxillofacial surgeon to reposition one or both jaws. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth; therefore, this surgery is usually performed in conjunction with orthodontics so that the teeth are in the proper position after surgery. Orthognathic surgery is used to correct a wide range of minor and major facial and jaw irregularities and aids the patient in an improved ability to chew, speak, and breathe. In most cases an enhanced appearance can also result.

Who needs Orthognathic Surgery?

People who may benefit from Orthognathic surgery are those with improper bite and those with jaws that are incorrectly positioned. Orthognathic surgery can also be used to help your dentist restore missing teeth or help realign troublesome jaw joints or help persons with certain types of sleep apnea.

Jaw Reconstruction

Jaw growth is a slow and gradual process. Sometimes during the growth process, the upper and lower jaws grow at different rates. A jaw discrepancy then exists.

Unequal jaw growth can cause trouble

One or both jaws may grow too much or too little. The resulting abnormality can interfere with the proper teeth alignment, speaking, and chewing. The tongue and lips may be forced to move awkwardly during speech and swallowing in an attempt to compensate for the jaw misalignment. There could be a speech defect, mouth breathing, snoring or other symptoms.

An improper bite can develop from jaw misalignment and threaten the long-term health of the gums and teeth. The jaw joint (TMJ) can also be adversely affected by a jaw misalignment. Jaws of different sizes that do not match can affect appearance also.


When unequal jaw growth is the source of the problem, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary. Orthodontics (braces) may also be needed to allow the teeth to mesh together properly. Corrective jaw surgery involves moving all or part of the upper and/or lower jaw into a more normal position. For example, the entire jaw can be moved backward if it is too large, forward if too small, or a combination of both in involved cases. The ultimate goal of treatment is to attain normalcy and to improve function and facial balance.

In addition, some people have facial abnormalities involving the upper face, cheekbones, and nose. These can be corrected as well. The bones are repositioned so the facial features are more complementary and enhance normal breathing, speaking, and eating patterns. After the jaws are moved into the desired position, the bones are fixed with wires. Braces and rubber bands may be used to immobilize your teeth for a short period of time.