Orthognathic Surgery

Jawbone surgery, or orthognathic surgery, is used to treat jaw misalignment (when the top and bottom jaws do not meet properly) and cases where teeth aren’t fitting correctly in the jawbone. While orthodontics can straighten improperly aligned teeth, a misaligned jaw requires corrective jaw surgery. Orthognathic procedures can ensure that your teeth and jaw function as they should and provide cosmetic improvement to the face.


Who Can Benefit from Jaw Surgery?

Those with misaligned jaws or an improper bite are often candidates for orthognathic surgery. Because the upper and lower jaws can sometimes grow at different rates, a number of issues can arise with speech, chewing, appearance, and overall oral health. Trauma and various conditions can also impact your jaw’s alignment, and while orthodontics can correct bite problems caused by the teeth, jaw alignment issues typically necessitate orthognathic procedures.

You may be a candidate if you suffer from one or more of the following:

  • TMJ disorders
  • Chronic jaw pain and discomfort
  • Open bite
  • Issues with eating or speaking
  • Protruding jaw
  • Trouble breathing

The causes of these issues can vary, whether they have existed since birth or were acquired later through trauma or environmental factors. A consultation will take place prior to treatment, where you will undergo a comprehensive examination that includes x-ray imaging. Feel free to ask any questions you might have during this consultation appointment, as once you’re fully informed about your treatment options you and your dental team can make the right decision for your individual case.


How Technology is Used in Orthognathic Surgery

Modern technological advancements allow our staff to use digital 3D models to explain the process of your surgery. Computer video and x-ray imaging will provide you with an idea of your facial appearance following surgery, and help to illustrate the benefits of the procedure.

If undergoing orthognathic surgery is the best option for you, we will work closely with both your orthodontist and general dentist over the course of treatment. The procedure can reposition your jaws and teeth and allow you to feel more confident about your appearance and dental health.


You will be prescribed a pain medication and antibiotic upon discharge. These medications may be in liquid or pill form. If given a liquid medication then use the syringe provided by the pharmacy to measure and administer. If given a pill then you may crush the pill and mix it with a small amount of water or juice. Please take medications as prescribed by the doctor.

We recommend that you take an over-the- counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen, Motrin or Advil. Take 600 mg every 6 hours for the first week to help reduce pain and swelling. Please remember that most narcotic pain medication already have Tylenol in it, so do not take any extra Tylenol as this may cause serious issues.

For patients that have had an upper jaw surgery, nasal decongestants, expectorants or nasal sprays may be used to help with any difficulty breathing through your nostrils. A humidifier or frequent warm showers may also help aid in congestion.

Expect significant swelling. Swelling will maximize during the first week then should start to diminish. It is beneficial to use ice/ice packs/frozen peas wrapped in a towel and applied to the cheeks for a period of 20-30 minutes at a time. Ice should be used for the first 48-72 hours.

It takes approximately two weeks for the majority of swelling to disappear. If there is an increase in swelling and pain after 10-14 days that could indicate an infection, which may require treatment. Should this happen, please contact the doctor.

Bruising may also occur with swelling. The bruising should dissipate as swelling subsides. The bruising may travel in the skin and change in color. This is normal and will resolve in 2 weeks.

Minor oozing from the incisions made inside the mouth should be expected for the first 72 hours. Upper jaw surgeries usually experience some minor trickling of blood through the nose. Nasal sprays and decongestants will help with this. Dark blood clots may be coughed up or expressed through the nose toward the end of the first week for upper jaw surgeries. If in any case there is a gush of bright red blood from any incisions or the nose then contact the doctor.
Numbness to the face and jaw depending on the surgery that was done is normal. This may persist for weeks, sometimes months. This will be monitored by your doctor during your office visits.
Oral Hygiene
It is very important to keep your mouth and teeth clean following surgery. Gentle rinsing and spitting with salt water or prescribed Peridex oral rinse should be done the first week. Then a Waterpik can be used to aid in cleaning. Use a child toothbrush to brush the outsides of your teeth. If you are wired or have elastics then you will not be able to brush the tongue side of your teeth.

Avoid any foods that may cause your stomach to become upset. If you are going to vomit then you should:

  • Bend forward
  • Put your finger inside your cheek alongside the teeth and gently pull your cheek outward.
  • Remember that everything that you are ingesting is liquid, therefore if anything comes out it will also be liquid. Vomit can escape around the teeth and out the side of the cheek. Try not to cut the wires or elastics if at all possible.
  • Anti-nausea medication can be prescribed if necessary.
It is essential that your body receives adequate fluids and nourishment in order to promote healing. You will be limited to a liquid diet for 4-6 weeks. Suggestions for a full liquid diet include: milk shakes, smoothies, Jell-0, blended foods, ensure and protein shakes. The doctor will instruct you as to when you can resume a soft diet. Avoid alcohol, sugary and carbonated drinks.

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