Jaw surgery: Types, procedure, risks, and recovery.

Dr. Hoss Abar

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Jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) can straighten or reposition the jaw. Most of the time, oral or maxillofacial surgeons perform this in collaboration with an orthodontist.  

Orthodontists recommend Jaw surgery for a variety of reasons. Jaw surgery, for example, could correct a misaligned bite caused by unusual jaw growth or heal an injury.  

Continue reading to learn more about the many types of jaw surgery, their procedures, and their risks.  

When do you need jaw surgery?   

If you have a jaw problem and orthodontic procedures are not working, your orthodontist may recommend jaw surgery. Your orthodontist and oral surgeon will collaborate to create a treatment plan appropriate for your situation.  

Jaw surgery can help with a variety of issues, including:  

  • Adjustment of your bite to fit your teeth together when you close your mouth.   
  • To treat a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.   
  • Jaw surgery can also help to heal a facial injury, such as a cleft palate. 
  • Jaw surgery prevents further wear and tear to your teeth  
  • It helps to solve issues with biting, chewing, and swallowing.  
  • Jaw surgery also addresses breathing problems, such as mouth breathing and obstruction.  
  • The best time for jaw surgery is after the jaw has stopped growing, usually in the late teens or early twenties.  

Types of Jaw Surgery   

Maxillary osteotomy  

Upper jaw surgery is known as a maxillary osteotomy (maxilla). The following are the conditions that may necessitate a maxillary osteotomy: 

  • An open bite occurs when your rear teeth (molars) do not touch when your mouth is closed   
  • A crossbite occurs when some of your bottom teeth sit outside of your top teeth when your mouth is closed  
  • Midfacial hyperplasia is a disorder in which growth in the center of your face is diminished.  

The procedure of maxillary osteotomy   

  • Firstly, your surgeon will make a tiny incision in the gums above your upper teeth to reach the bones of your top jaw.  
  • Your surgeon will then cut into the bone of your upper jaw so that it may be moved as a single unit. 
  • They will then move this piece of your upper jaw to align and fit properly with your lower teeth.  
  • They also use plates or screws to retain the repositioned bone in place and close the wound in your gums with stitches.  

Mandibular osteotomy  

Mandibular osteotomy is surgery of your lower jaw (mandible). It is typically performed when your lower jaw protrudes or recedes significantly.  

The procedure of mandibular osteotomy   

  • A mandibular osteotomy involves your surgeon making a tiny incision into your gums on each side of your lower jaw, exactly behind your molars. 
  • Your surgeon will then cut the bone of the lower jaw.  
  • They will then move it into a new position and move the lower jawbone forward or backward new class.  
  • Your surgeon will then install plates or screws to secure the repositioned jawbone in place and stitches the incisions in your gums. 
mandibular osteotomy

Bimaxillary osteotomy  

Bimaxillary osteotomy is a surgery that involves both your upper and lower jaws. When a problem affects both jaws, doctors recommend this surgery.  

The techniques employed for this surgery include those outlined before for maxillary and mandibular osteotomies. Because surgery on both the upper and lower jaws can be complicated, your surgeon may employ 3-D modeling to assist in the planning of the surgery.  

TMJ surgery   

If previous therapies fail to relieve your TMJ problems, your doctor may consider TMJ surgery.  

There are three types of TMJ surgeries.   

  1. Arthrocentesis: Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive method that involves injecting fluid into the TMJ with tiny needles. Injecting this fluid helps to lubricate the joint and wash away any leftover debris or inflammation byproducts.  
  2. Arthroscopy: During arthroscopy, your surgeon will insert a small cannula into the joint. The surgeon then operates on the common with small tools and a thin scope (arthroscope).  
  3. Open joint surgery: The most invasive type of TMJ surgery is open joint surgery (arthrotomy). Your surgeon will make an incision before your ear for this surgery. After the incision, your surgeon will replace the afflicted TMJ components.  

What can I expect during and after the surgery? 

Before the surgery   

In many cases, an orthodontist fits braces or aligners in the months leading up to your surgery. Aligners aid in the alignment of your teeth in preparation for your operation.  

Before your operation, you'll have a few appointments. These aid in the planning of your process by your orthodontist and surgeon. Measurements, molds, or X-rays of your mouth are all preparation examples.  

During the surgery   

General anesthesia is used during jaw surgery. That means you'll be dozing off during the treatment. Most procedures take between 2 and 5 hours to complete. However, the actual time varies on the type of surgery.  

After the surgery   

You may notice numbness in your top or bottom lip in some circumstances. This usually is only transient and will pass in a few weeks or months. It may be permanent in rare situations.  

Recovery time can range between 6 and 12 weeks. After a few weeks of rest, your orthodontist will use braces to continue straightening your teeth.  

After removing your braces, your orthodontist will provide you with a retainer to assist you in keeping your teeth straight.  

What are the risks of jaw surgery?   

Jaw surgery is generally safe. However, like with any surgery, there are some risks. Before any procedure, your surgeon should tell you of these risks.  

Jaw surgery has the following risks:  

  • Heavy bleeding   
  • Infection at the surgical site   
  • Injury to the jaw   
  • Nerves fracture of the jaw issues with bite or alignment following surgery, which may necessitate a further procedure  
  • Jaw relapse to its original posture   
  • New TMJ pain  

Some operations may carry a higher risk than others.  

According to a 2019 study, persons with a bimaxillary osteotomy had a higher risk of problems than those with a maxillary or mandibular osteotomy alone.  

Is jaw surgery expensive?   

The cost of jaw surgery varies depending on several factors. These are some examples:  

  • Your location  
  • Surgeon  
  • The procedure  

Remember that the entire cost of jaw surgery comprises various components, including the surgeon's charge, facility expenses, anesthetic fees, any extra tests performed, and any drugs prescribed.  

Before scheduling your jaw surgery, check your insurance to see what it covers. Many insurance companies will fund jaw surgery if it is to treat a specific, verified health condition or problem.  


Jaw surgery is commonly used to realign or correct the alignment of your jaw. It might affect either your upper or lower jaw or both. There are numerous options for jaw surgery. Your orthodontist and surgeon will collaborate to devise a treatment strategy for your issue.  

Although jaw surgery is generally safe, there are some risks involved. Before your operation, ask your surgeon about these risks.  

The cost of jaw surgery might vary depending on numerous factors, including the surgeon and type. Before scheduling any operation, always ensure what your insurance covers.

Contact your Pinole dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD at Abar Orthodontics, to know more about jaw surgery.


Prognathism: Corrective jaw surgery for protruding jaws.

This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition.

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