Corrective Jaw Surgery

Orthognathic surgery is needed to fix substantial abnormalities of the upper and lower jaw.

Orthognathic surgery refers to the surgical correction needed to fix substantial abnormalities of the maxilla (upper jaw), the mandible (lower jaw), or both.

The abnormality may be a birth defect, a growth defect, or the result of traumatic injuries to the jaw area.

Orthognathic surgery is generally performed by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon to correct malocclusion (bad bite) in cases where routine orthodontic treatment has not or will not be effective.

Orthognathic surgeries include the reconstruction of the mandible or maxilla, mandibular ramus, maxilla osteotomy, and mandibular osteotomy.

woman with TMJ TMD disorder jaw pain

Classifications of malocclusion that may require surgery


Class I Occlusion

Class I occlusion means that the lower front teeth sit directly behind the upper front teeth. 


Class II Malocclusion

This is seen when the lower front teeth sit significantly further back than the upper front teeth, in some cases the lower teeth may hit the soft tissue behind the upper teeth.


Class III Malocclusion

Also know as an underbite. This is seen when the lower front teeth sit significantly further out than the upper front teeth, making the lower jaw much more prominent that the upper jaw.

Reasons for orthognathic surgery

The malocclusion of the teeth can create greatly destructive forces among the five powerful muscles that control the closing and opening of the jaw.

These muscles generate a tremendous force when clenching, grinding or chewing.

Misalignment can seriously damage the function and aesthetic appearance of the teeth in many ways if left untreated, such as:


Tooth Wear

In the case of an overbite, the pressure and wear on the teeth is not spread evenly.

This can also lead to TMJ, migraine headaches, and tooth loss.


Chronic Jaw, Muscle Pain & Headache

The misalignment of the teeth alters the way the facial muscles interact. In some cases, the meniscus cartilage which acts as a buffer between the jawbones can be painfully damaged.


Loose Teeth

When uneven pressure is continually exerted in unintended places or soft tissue is damaged by an overbite, adjacent teeth may become loose in their sockets which causes pain and reduces proper function.


Tooth Sensitivity

As teeth become damaged by constant use, the enamel becomes thinner and the nerves are less protected. This lack of protection can lead to sharp pains when hot or cold foods are eaten.


Difficulty Swallowing, Chewing, or Biting Food

Each can be associated with muscle pain and/or poor alignment of the upper and lower jaws.