Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective jaw surgery, also called orthognathic surgery, is a procedure which repairs various dental and skeletal abnormalities. Performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, corrective jaw surgery is mainly aimed to improve speaking, chewing, breathing and other functional problems, but it can also positively enhance the patient’s appearance through the process.

Dental and skeletal deformities typically occur due to injuries, birth defects and various tooth and jaw misalignments. As opposed to orthodontics which can repair misaligned teeth, corrective jaw surgery is necessary to correct the misalignment of the jaws.

Am I the right candidate?

It will be the teamwork of your dentist, orthodontist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon to determine whether you need corrective jaw surgery and what the course of treatment will be. The conditions where corrective jaw surgery might be recommended include:

  • Difficulty biting food, chewing or swallowing
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Chronic jaw pain and headaches
  • Excessive wear of the teeth
  • Protruding jaw
  • Receding chin
  • Open bite
  • Birth defects or facial injuries
  • Chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • Sleeping disorders (sleep apnea and snoring)


You might have to wear orthodontic braces for some time to realign your teeth before you get to the corrective jaw surgery. Once the orthodontic course of treatment is completed, your surgeon will update your medical records accordingly by taking x-rays, pictures and models of your teeth.

The surgery is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia, in an ambulatory surgical center or in the surgeon’s office, depending on the extent of your condition and the difficulty of the procedure. It normally takes between one to several hours. According to your specific condition, the surgeon will repair the position of your jaws, using surgical plates, wires, screws and rubber bands. The goal is to make the incisions inside the mouth to avoid any scarring. If outside incisions are necessary, the surgeon will try to make them as small as possible so that the scars are barely visible once healed.


The recovery period after the surgery usually takes between 1-3 weeks when you can go back to work or school. The complete healing of the new jaw structure can be quite lengthy though – anywhere from 9 months to 1 year. Initially, you will need to be on a modified diet of liquids and solids, and gradually transition back to your regular diet. Refraining from tobacco products and heavy physical exercise is recommended. Any potential pain following the surgery is easily managed through pain medication.

Possible Risks

Possible risks and side-effects can occur just as with any other surgery. Though occurring infrequently, they include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nerve damage
  • Numbness in the face

Oral Health

Corrective jaw surgery is a long-term commitment for you and your family and the time required for your treatment can vary according to your condition. In the end, the procedure not only improves oral and dental health and functionality, but it might have an extremely positive effect on your appearance as well!