What is Orthognathic Surgery?

What is Orthognathic Surgery?

When your upper and lower jaws do not meet as they should or your teeth do not fit properly within your jaws, you may need orthognathic surgery. In children, palatal expander devices, braces, and other orthodontic appliances can be used to influence the shape of the jaw as it develops. This is no longer possible after puberty, as the jaw and facial bones fuse together at this time. Orthognathic surgery corrects jaw abnormalities when orthodontic treatment alone is not an option.

When Orthognathic Surgery Is Needed

Once the jaw has fused, surgery to correct major growth and developmental abnormalities may be needed. Orthognathic surgery may be advised if you have:

  • Difficulty biting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking
  • Excessive tooth wear due to malocclusion
  • Jaws that don’t close properly
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Temporomandibular joint pain
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Facial injury or birth defects

Over time, malocclusion can affect your overall oral health. When your upper and lower jaws don't fit together properly, your teeth are subjected to uneven force, which can lead to fractures and abnormal wear. Many patients with severe malocclusion develop TMJ disorder, which has the potential to cause chronic pain that impacts your quality of life.

Orthognathic Surgery Process

Your first appointment at our office will involve a complete diagnostic workup. In collaboration with a qualified orthodontist, we use cutting-edge technology to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Your oral surgeon will explain the orthognathic surgery procedure to you and help you understand what to expect during and after your surgery, along with the risks and benefits of moving forward with surgical treatment.

Orthognathic surgery is a joint effort between your oral surgeon and an orthodontist. Patients commonly undergo orthodontic treatment for 6-12 months before their surgery. This prepares your teeth for the new positions of your jaw after your surgery. In some cases, a general dentist will be needed to perform additional restorative procedures, such as crowns or teeth contouring, to enhance the results of your orthognathic surgery.

The upper jaw (maxillary osteotomy), lower jaw (mandibular osteotomy), and chin (genioplasty) can all be part of an orthognathic surgery. To optimize function and ensure symmetrical facial features, surgery on both the upper and lower jaw is often needed. 

Because orthognathic surgery is performed under general anesthesia, your procedure will be scheduled at a local hospital, rather than our office. In most cases, all incisions will be made on the inside of the mouth to avoid facial scarring. Your jaw is relocated, altered, and/or augmented during the procedure. Customized bone plates, screws, and other hardware are used to secure the jaw and hold it in place while you heal.

Your orthodontic treatment will continue after your orthognathic surgery in order to make minor modifications and refinements to the positions of your teeth. Once the process is complete, you’ll have improved function, facial appearance, and overall health.

Schedule an Orthognathic Surgery Consultation

If you’d like to learn more about orthognathic surgery, contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our three New Jersey locations.