Chin and Jaw Surgery

chin surgery illustration

Jaw surgery (also called orthognathic surgery) may be an option if you have jaw problems that can’t be fixed with orthodontics alone. In most cases, you have braces on your teeth before surgery and after surgery until healing and alignment are complete. If you are a candidate for corrective jaw surgery, our surgeons will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist to develop your treatment plan. Jaw surgery can move your teeth and jaws into a new position that results in a more attractive and functional bite and smile.

Why it’s done

Jaw surgery may help to:

  • Improve biting and chewing
  • Correct problems with swallowing or speech
  • Correct bite fit or jaw closure issues, such as when the molars touch but the front teeth don’t touch (open bite)
  • Correct facial imbalance such as small chins, underbites, overbites and crossbites
  • Help lips to fully close comfortably
  • Repair facial injury or birth defects
  • Provide relief for obstructive sleep apnea

Before Surgery

Our surgeons use modern technology to plan the surgery. Using comprehensive x-rays, patient photos and computer imaging we can project how your bite will be improved and even give you an estimation of how you will look after surgery. Our goal is to help you understand the extent and benefits of the surgery.

During Surgery

Jaw surgery is performed by one of our oral maxillofacial surgeons and done under general anesthesia. Surgery takes place in the hospital and requires a few days recovery in the hospital.

Surgery usually can be performed inside your mouth, with no visible scars. However, sometimes small incisions may be required outside of the mouth.

Your surgeon makes cuts in the jawbones and moves them into the correct position and secures the position with small plates and screws.

Jaw surgery may be performed on the upper jaw, lower jaw, chin or any combination of these.

After Surgery

After surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions. These usually include:

  • What you can eat and what you need to avoid
  • Oral hygiene
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Avoiding strenuous activity
  • Medications to control pain
  • When to return to work or school

After initial jaw healing — usually around six weeks — your orthodontist finishes aligning your teeth with braces. The entire orthodontic process, including surgery and braces, may take several years. Once the braces are removed, retainers to hold tooth position may be used.