Orthognathic Surgery


What is jaw (orthognathic) surgery?

Jaw surgery, also called orthognathic surgery, is surgery that helps align your upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). If your jaws don’t line up, it can affect your bite and make it hard for you to eat and speak.

Orthognathic (“ortho nathic”) surgery isn’t a single event. It’s a process that includes orthodontic treatment to prepare your teeth for your jaw surgery, the surgery itself, recovering from surgery and then more orthodontic treatment for up to a year after your surgery. All told, the jaw surgery process can take between two and three years.

How do people develop jaw bone problems?

Generally speaking, jaw bone problems are either present at birth (congenital) or caused later in life by injuries or other medical conditions that affect your jaw.

What are examples of congenital jaw problems?

Congenital jaw problems can be individual issues like having an overbite or can be related to an overarching medical condition like Treacher Collins syndrome. Here are some other examples of congenital jaw problems.

  • Cross bite. This happens when some of your bottom teeth sit out in front of your upper teeth. Under bite.
  • Open bite. Open bite is when many teeth don’t come together when you close your mouth.
  • Cleft lip and palate. Cleft palate happens when your face and mouth didn’t develop normally.
  • Pierre Robin sequence. Children born with Pierre Robin sequence often have small lower jaws that can make it difficult for infants to eat or breathe.

What are examples of jaw problems caused by injuries or medical conditions?

  • Facial fractures. The term jaw fracture can refer to your lower jaw (mandible) or your upper jaw (maxilla). You can break your lower jaw by being hit or punched by an object. You can break your upper jaw by falling, being in a motor vehicle accident or being hit.
  • Cysts and tumors. Healthcare providers might also perform jaw surgery to treat radiation exposure.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA happens when your airway muscles, tonsils, tongue or excess tissue block your airway so your breath stops and starts when you sleep. OSA is treated with jaw surgery called maxillomandibular advancement (MMA).
  • Temporal mandibular joint disorders (TMJ). TMJ can be caused by an improper bite, which is when your upper and lower teeth don’t line up.
  • Growth disturbances. This refers to changes in your jaw when your body develops too much growth hormone. The excess hormone makes your tissues, including your upper and/or lower jaw, grow unusually large.