Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic surgery is also called jaw surgery that helps align your upper and lower jaws. If your jaws are not properly aligned, it can affect your bite and make it difficult for you to eat and speak.

Orthognathic surgery is not a single event. It is a process that involves teeth preparation for your surgery, the jaw surgery itself, recovery and remaining orthodontic treatment for upto a year.

It can also make a person's smile and facial profile look better.Orthognathic surgery aims to fix the functional issues caused by jaw problems.

When is orthognathic surgery or jaw surgery recommended?

Orthognathic surgery is recommended for treating the following problems :

Facial asymmetry

Corrects facial imbalance such as small chins, underbites, overbites and cross bites

Lip incompetency

Improves th eability of the lips to fully close comfortably

Facial trauma

Repairs facial injuries caused by accidents such as facial fractures, cysts or tumours

Jaw Problems

In patients who have spent years in orthodontic treatment in an attempt to correct a jaw problem

Obstructive sleep apnea(OSA)

This condition occurs when the airways muscles, tonsils, tongue or excess tissue block the airway causing sleep disturbances and snoring

Temporomandibular joint disorders

This may be caused by improper bite, leading to jaw pain

Congenital jaw problems

To correct problems with swallowing and speech


To minimise excessive wear and breakdown of teeth To correct bite fit or jaw closure issues. For instance, when the molars touch but the front teeth don't touch (open bite)

Growth disturbances

This refers to changes in your jaw that occur when the body produces excess amounts of growth hormone (more than necessary). This unwanted hormone causes tissues to grow abnormally large, including the upper and lower jaw


Before the Procedure

  • Dentists will take a thorough medical history, including your family history, general health status, previous operations, and any medications you may be taking
  • They will examine your facial features, and take photographs for medical record
  • The photographs are needed to be documented to analyse postoperative outcomes
  • Records (or models) of your teeth are taken
  • Radiographs such as x rays, orthopantomogram, lateral cephalogram are taken to analyse your facial skeleton (skeletal analysis)
  • Treatment plan, benefits and potential risks will be discussed with you
  • Prior to surgery, several blood tests may be required to assess your liver and kidney function. This will aid in determining if you have an infection, blood disorder, or anaemia.
  • Virtual surgical planning: It is critical to plan your corrective jaw surgery. A cone beam CT scan (CBCT) is used to plan your surgery virtually. This also allows your surgeon to review the three-dimensional plan and predict outcomes with you in the clinic prior to surgery.
  • Pre-orthodontic treatment: Prior to initiating orthodontic treatment, your teeth may need to be restored and filled. Extractions are also commonly used to address crowding problems and to remove impacted teeth that would interfere with either orthodontics or jaw surgery.
  • Pre-surgical orthodontics: Straightening and aligning your teeth is required so that the jaw can be precisely positioned during surgery. This normally takes 6-18 months. When the orthodontist determines you are ready for surgery, you will be referred back to the surgeon to finalise the surgical plan.

During the Procedure

  • Your jaw surgery will require hospitalisation for the operation under general anaesthesia.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons make an incision in the soft tissue and cut the bone and move the jaw as required. For instance, a small jaw may be lengthened, or a large jaw may be reduced in size. To avoid scarring on the face, incisions are usually made inside the mouth.
  • If the surgeon needs to make an external incision, care is taken to make it in natural skin creases.
  • Once the jaws are in the desired position, they are permanently fixed in place with small bone plates and screws.
  • Depending upon the complexity of the surgery, this procedure may take from one hour (for a single jaw) to four hours or even more time (in some cases) for combined upper and lower jaw surgery.

What are the most common orthognathic procedures performed?

Most common jaw surgeries are:

Le Fort I

This is a surgical operation of the upper jaw. In this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision above the teeth in the upper jaw bone. Following which, the upper jaw and teeth will then be moved forward and rotated to align properly with the lower teeth.

Bilateral Sagittal Split Osteotomy (BSSO)

This is a surgical operation of the lower jaw. During this process, the surgeon makes incisions behind the lower molars in the lower jaw. The lower jaw can then be advanced and rotated to align with the upper jaw properly.


This is a surgical operation of the chin bone. This is frequently performed in conjunction with one of the preceding procedures to promote midline chin position and improved facial aesthetics.

Distraction osteogenesis

  • When the upper or lower jaw is underdeveloped, it cannot be safely advanced in a single surgery. A surgical technique known as distraction osteogenesis is used in these cases to gradually lengthen the bone. This is especially helpful in young children whose lower jaw is so small that it interferes with their ability to breathe and eat safely.
  • Distraction osteogenesis involves a cut in the lower jaw bone (mandible) or upper jaw bone (maxilla) and inserting an expansion device known as a distractor.
  • Screws are used to secure the distractor to either side of the bone cut. On the outside of the body, a small portion of the distractor is noticeable.
  • For two to three weeks, the device is turned daily, gradually increasing the gap between the bones to promote new bone growth.
  • Distraction is complete when the appropriate length is reached. After about 12 weeks, the distractor devices are surgically removed to allow the bone to heal.

After the Procedure

  • Your visit to hospital will usually vary from one to three days depending upon the procedure and your rate of recovery.
  • You will be administered intravenous fluids and medications to prevent dehydration and infection and to minimise pain and swelling. After surgery, the intravenous line and drip will stay attached to your arm until you are able to take adequate fluids and oral medications.
  • The sooner you commence eating, drinking and moving about normally, the quicker you will be discharged from hospital.
  • Immediately after surgery, you will experience mild facial swelling and your jaws will feel stiff. There is usually minimal pain and you may start having a liquid diet.
  • You may have facial numbness which resolves gradually. After the surgery, it is necessary to attend regular appointments with the surgeon to monitor healing and jaw position. At this points, your doctor would begin with your orthodontic treatment.
  • Post surgical orthodontics- Following the surgery, it is typical to continue orthodontic treatment for several months to achieve the final accurate teeth and jaw alignment.

Orthognathic Surgery Care at Medicover

Medicover is at the helm of dental care as it offers the best dental treatment in general, cosmetic, implant dentistry, orthodontics and complex jaw surgeries. A comprehensive range of dental treatment is offered by a team of expert dentists. Our committed team of specialists ensure superior results with precision. The dental department is equipped with sophisticated equipment that boasts state of the art technology. Functioning as a collaborative team, our dentists and other departments work together to give you a healthy and happy dental experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is jaw surgery a major surgery?

The procedure is considered safe for suitable candidates. But it’s important to keep in mind that it is a serious surgical procedure, which can involve a 3-4 day hospital stay.

2. Is orthognathic surgery painful?

You will be completely pain-free during the procedure because you will be under general anaesthesia. Some patients report mild discomfort following surgery, for which you will be given painkillers in recovery process.

3. How long does it take to heal from orthognathic surgery?

Initial jaw healing typically takes about six weeks after surgery, but complete healing can take up to 12 weeks. After initial jaw healing at about six weeks, your orthodontist finishes aligning your teeth with braces.

4. Are there any risks associated with jaw surgery?

When carried out by a skilled maxillofacial surgeon, these procedures are generally very safe to carry out. Few risks associated with surgery are blood loss, infection, nerve injury, and relapse of the jaw movement.

5. When can I fully open my mouth after jaw surgery?

It could take 10-14 days after surgery. Try opening and closing your mouth in front of a mirror. You should be able to fit at least one finger between your teeth after ten days. This should progress to three fingers between your teeth.

6. Can I brush my teeth after jaw surgery?

You may begin brushing your teeth the day after your surgery. Initially, simply use a soft toothbrush and warm water. Brush after each meal and stay on the teeth and surrounding gums and avoid the incision sites.

7. Can I yawn after a jaw surgery?

The mandible is the moving jaw and therefore discomfort is precipitated with increasing movement, such as chewing, yawning, and talking. Reduction of these activities for the first few weeks following surgery alleviates the discomfort.

8. How do I eat if my jaws are wired together after surgery?

Most patients do not need to be wired or rubber banded closed for more than 2-3 weeks, and in many cases, even lesser time is required. It is difficult to eat, speak, or brush your teeth during this time. You must adjust to a liquid or pureed diet. During this period, some weight loss is normal.

9. How long is the orthognathic surgery?

The length of your orthognathic surgery is approximately two to three hours.

10. Do I have to be a certain age to have orthognathic surgery?

In order to undergo surgery, you must be at such an age that your jaws have stopped growing to achieve results which are not altered by bone growth. For girls, this usually means being 16 or older and for boys aged 18 and above. Orthognathic surgery can be performed on more mature adults as well, provided you are in good health and you are willing to commit to orthodontic treatment prior to surgery.