Orthognathic Surgery (Jaw Surgery)


Orthognathic surgery may be considered when the upper (maxilla) and lower (mandible) jaws meet incorrectly and/or teeth do not seem to fit within the jaws. The word Orthognathic is derived from the greek words orthos meaning straight and gnathos meaning jaws. If your jaws do not meet correctly and your teeth do not seem to “fit” with your jaws, you may have a bite problem that makes eating difficult. Your face may appear “off balance” and you may not be happy with your appearance. Your bones and teeth may have developed that way since you were a child, or perhaps you have suffered a serious facial injury. Whatever the reason, your teeth and facial bones can be repositioned to create a more balanced appearance with jaws that work well together. This type of surgery not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that your teeth will meet correctly and function properly.

Before treatment begins, a consultation is necessary. Planning orthognathic surgery is much like an exercise program: a physical exam helps to assess your health so you can find out what it will take to reach your goal. Our office will work closely with your orthodontist and restorative dentist to assess your teeth and facial bones. This will enable us to determine what we can do to achieve your intended goal. The pre-treatment consultation process will include a series of specific facial x-rays with x-ray analysis, clinical photographs, dental stone models (reproductions of your teeth) and coordination with your entire dental team (orthodontist and restorative dentist).

We use the most modern techniques available to determine exactly how your surgery will be approached. Using facial X-rays in combination with facial skeletal analysis, we are able to plan your surgery in a comprehensive, coordinated fashion. Our detailed diagnostic workup will help you understand the surgical process, the extent of the treatment prescribed and enable you to appreciate the benefits orthognathic surgery can provide.

Who Needs Orthognathic Surgery?

People who would benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite or jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a developmental process and in some instances they may develop at different rates. This developmental malformation may result in a host of problems that can affect function (chewing), speech, long-term oral health and physical appearance. Injuries to the jaws and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. Orthodontics alone can correct many bite problems especially when only the teeth are involved. Orthognathic surgery may be required when the actual jaws require repositioning.

Difficulty in the following areas may indicate a need for orthognathic surgery and an evaluation may be indicated:

  • Difficulty in chewing, biting or swallowing
  • Speech problem
  • Chronic jaw or TMJ pain
  • Open bite
  • Protruding jaw
  • Breathing problems

Any of these concerns may exist at birth or may be acquired after birth as a result of hereditary influences, environmental influences or a traumatic injury to the face. Before treatment begins, a consultation is necessary. Planning orthognathic surgery is much like an exercise program: a physical exam helps to assess your health so you can find out what it will take to reach your goal. Our office will work closely with your orthodontist and restorative dentist to assess your teeth and facial bones. This will enable us to determine what we can do to achieve your intended goal. The pre-treatment consultation process will include a series of specific facial x-rays with x-ray analysis, clinical photographs, dental stone models (reproductions of your teeth) and coordination with your entire dental team (orthodontist and restorative dentist). We encourage you to ask any questions that you have regarding your treatment. When you are fully informed about every aspect of your care, you and your dental team will make the decision to proceed with treatment together.

Technology and Orthognathic Surgery

We use the most modern techniques available to determine exactly how your surgery will be approached. Using facial X-rays in combination with facial skeletal analysis, we are able to plan your surgery in a comprehensive, coordinated fashion. Our detailed diagnostic workup will help you understand the surgical process, the extent of the treatment prescribed and enable you to appreciate the benefits orthognathic surgery can provide.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trained, skilled and uniquely qualified to manage and treat acute injuries to the facial skeleton. Drs Barbieri, Colameo and Berardo maintain active staff privileges at Hackensack University Medical Center. We are very fortunate to be an integral part of the trauma team at Hackensack University Medical Center. The Medical Center is recognized nationally for its emergency services and is a state designated Level II Trauma center. Our emergency room coverage for facial injuries includes:

  • Facial lacerations
  • Intra oral lacerations
  • Avulsed (knocked out) teeth
  • Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose, or eye socket)
  • Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)

Injuries to the face, by their very nature, impart a high degree of emotional and physical trauma to many of our patients. The art and science of treating facial injuries requires special training involving “hands on” experience. The doctors and staff have an intimate and an understanding of how the treatment we provide will influence our patient’s long-term function and appearance.