About Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery

The word Orthognathic comes from the Greek words orthos, meaning “straight,” and gnathos, meaning “jaw.” Orthognathic surgery, also known as jaw surgery, is a type of corrective jaw surgery that treats conditions of the jaw bones and face. The goal of this type of surgery is to improve the function of the jaws and teeth, resulting in more facial balance. 

Surgery can be used to correct birth defects of the jaw, jaw pain, trauma-related injuries to the jaw when orthodontic treatment has not been effective, chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth, or other problems that occur as a result of the natural aging process. You will require a consult with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon if you require any type of jaw surgery.

Orthognathic procedures are typically performed under general anesthesia. The specific type of surgery will determine the incision location, but incisions are usually made inside the mouth in order to minimize visible scarring. During the procedure, the surgeon will reposition the jawbone and then secure it in place with titanium screws and plates. If you are searching for an Oral Surgeon in Mesa AZ, Tempe, Show Low, and Queen Creek or an Oral Surgeon near me, we are here for you. To book an appointment with a surgeon at any of our 5 locations, call or Text (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form.

Maxillary and Mandibular

There are two basic types of jaw surgery: maxillary surgery and mandibular surgery. Maxillary surgery involves repositioning the upper jaw, while a mandibular osteotomy involves repositioning the lower jaw.

Oral and facial surgery offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved jaw function
  • Minimize excessive wear of teeth 
  • Enhanced facial appearance
  • Improved speech and chewing ability

Congenital Jaw Problems

Orthognathic surgery can correct a number of congenital jaw problems, including individuals with an improper bite. Common conditions include

  • Underbite. When the lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw and teeth overlap.
  • Overbite. When the upper jaw extends too far forward, causing a gap between the front teeth.
  • Crossbite. When some of your top or bottom teeth don’t align properly with each other.
  • Cleft lip or cleft palate. When the lip or palate of your mouth does not completely form at birth.

Pierre Robin sequence. When a baby has a small jaw and a receding tongue, that makes feeding difficult, as well as breathing problems.

Injuries and Conditions

Orthognathic surgery can also be used to address a wide range of injuries and conditions related to the jaw, including

  • Fractures of the jaw or jaw joint: Orthognathic surgery can help to realign the jaw, restore jaw function and treat facial pain following a serious injury or facial trauma.
  • Tumors of the mouth: Surgery is required to remove tumors that occur in the jaws, including benign tumors like osteomas and cysts. Orthognathic surgery may also be used in combination with other treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, in order to address more serious tumors.

TMJ disorders: Surgery can be used to address issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is located where your jaw connects to your skull. TMJ disorders can lead to jaw pain and inflammation, as well as problems with biting and chewing.

Jaw Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Jaw surgery can also be used to treat sleep apnea, a condition that causes loud snoring and disrupted sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway, preventing air from flowing into the lungs. This can cause oxygen levels to drop, leading to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Orthognathic surgery can help to open up the airway and improve sleep apnea symptoms.

Before we recommend surgery to cure sleep apnea, an oral surgeon will conduct a comprehensive examination of your face and throat region. A sleep study will be ordered to assess the degree of your problem. If you believe you have sleep apnea or have been referred, come see one of our surgeons for an evaluation

The Surgery Process

Orthognathic surgery requires careful planning and execution. Prior to surgery, your surgeon will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth, teeth, and jaw. This will involve taking X-rays, photos, and dental impressions in order to create a detailed surgical plan. You will also be asked to bite down on special dental appliances called surgical splints. These splints will be used to help the surgeon determine the best way to reposition your jaw during surgery.

What Materials Are Used?

Titanium screws and plates are typically used to secure the jawbone in place. These materials are strong and durable, allowing your jaw to heal properly after surgery. In some cases, other materials may be used instead of titanium, depending on your specific needs. Because of the strength, most of the time, teeth will not need to be wired together after surgery. However, if your jaw is severely misaligned or if there is extensive damage to the teeth, your surgeon may decide to wire your teeth together for a short period of time following surgery. This will help to keep the jaw in place while it heals.

Can I Be Allergic?

Allergic reactions to titanium plates and screws are rare. However, you should let your surgeon know if you have any allergies before surgery so they can take the proper precautions. Always ask your surgeon about other potential side effects or complications that may arise following surgery.


Orthognathic surgery is a complex procedure that usually requires general anesthesia. You will be given an anesthetic to keep you asleep and pain-free throughout the procedure. Refer to our Anesthesia Guidelines for further info.

Recovery Time

Jaw surgery is a major surgical procedure depending on the case, so you can expect a fairly lengthy recovery period. Most patients start to feel good after 2-3 weeks after surgery for minor procedures and 6-12 weeks for more serious cases. It will take some time for the bones and soft tissue in your mouth to heal properly. During this time, you will likely experience some swelling and bruising around your jaws and face. You may also have some difficulty speaking and eating. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully during this time to ensure proper healing.

The Risks

Orthognathic surgery is a safe and effective procedure, but like all surgical procedures, it does come with some risks. The most common complications include infection and bleeding. Blood loss during surgery is usually minor and can be controlled. In more serious cases, damage to surrounding structures, such as nerves or salivary glands, can also occur.

Don’t Suffer In Silence

If you are suffering from a jaw or facial injury or if you are experiencing chronic problems with your jaw, mouth, or teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our skilled oral surgeons will work with you to develop a treatment plan that can help you achieve the results you need and regain optimal oral health. We practice a full scope of surgery with expertise ranging from jaw surgery to wisdom teeth removal. Come see us today to discuss our treatment options and start living your best life. 

If you are searching for an Oral Surgeon in Mesa, AZ, Tempe, Show Low, and Queen Creek, or an Oral Surgeon near me, we are here for you. To book an appointment with a surgeon at any of our 5 locations, call or Text (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form.