What You Should Know About Jaw Surgery

Under orthognathic surgery, jaw surgery repositions or reshapes both upper and lower jaw bones to eliminate abnormal bite patterns that cause uneven wear on teeth and improve breathing issues such as sleep apnea.

Procedure is completed inside your mouth without leaving facial scars, using small screws, wires and rubber bands to anchor bones to their new positions. They’re much smaller than brace brackets but become part of bone structure over time.


Undergoing jaw surgery can restore balance to facial features, make chewing and speaking more comfortably, boost self-esteem and boost self-image. Furthermore, it may help treat issues like an improper bite – when the upper and lower teeth don’t line up correctly – or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ).

An improper bite can lead to early wear on your teeth and Orthognathic surgery can help protect against this damage while also treating breathing issues like sleep apnea caused by its position or jaws.

At Orthopaedic Specialists of Texas (APST), we can also use grafted bones from another part of your body such as hip or ribs to treat facial bone defects like cleft lips and palate. While healing occurs, surgical plates, screws, wires and rubber bands will hold jaws in place until their integration with jawbones occurs – these appliances eventually becoming part of them as the healing progresses. While healing occurs, you may experience some temporary discomfort such as face swelling and difficulty opening your mouth but this should gradually dissipate as healing continues.


Corrective jaw surgery entails making adjustments to your upper and lower jaw bone structures to give them their proper placement, with the goal of improving facial structure, chewing function and speech production as well as decreasing sleep apnea symptoms.

Procedure is performed under general anesthesia and can take two to four weeks for any associated bruising and swelling to subside, so it is imperative that oral hygiene routines such as using salt water rinses and antiseptic mouthwash continue for optimal outcomes.

Recovery after corrective jaw surgery typically includes following a liquid or soft diet for several weeks after surgery and scheduling dental visits for healing assessments. Most patients experience low-grade discomfort that responds well to painkillers; occasionally drain tubes may be placed in wounds in order to reduce bleeding and avoid infections; these tubes will typically be removed shortly after surgery has completed. For maximum efficiency and speedy healing, adequate protein and caloric intake must also be maintained.


Swelling after jaw surgery is one of the most frequently experienced post-op effects, though its intensity varies between individuals. On average, swelling reaches its maximum on Day 4, then gradually subsides over the subsequent months until some degree of swelling remains as late as three months post surgery.

After jaw surgery, patients may notice a numb sensation around the mouth and lips that is most noticeable when smiling; this usually resolves over time.

After having jaw surgery, it is vital that patients consume two to three liters of fluid daily – mostly water – in order to ensure proper recovery. Straw drinking should be avoided as its suction can disrupt surgical wound healing.

Starting the second week, gradually increase soft foods consumption (preferably baby food consistency or blenderized) until adequate calories have been reached. Once this process has begun, attempt wiggle movements with jaw from side-to-side as comfortable and open jaw as you deem comfortable – your goal should be two finger breadths between your teeth by eight weeks time.


Some insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost associated with jaw surgery, depending on which procedure you require. Orthognathic jaw surgery typically isn’t covered for cosmetic reasons, but if it is medically necessary in improving health and wellness then some costs may be covered by your provider.

Location, surgeon expertise and facility fees all play a factor in the cost of services provided. Look for providers outside major cities that may not pass along as many overhead expenses to you.

Ideal timing for jaw surgery on children should occur between 15-16 for girls and 17-21 for boys, although braces may help align teeth before and after jaw surgery. Some orthodontists offer combined jaw surgery and orthodontic treatment plans which may save both money and recovery time by consolidating these procedures into one treatment plan – each additional procedure adds to your total bill but you only pay one facility charge and anesthesiologist fee instead of two for separate services.

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