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Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic surgery is sometimes called "Surgical Orthodontics" because, just as an orthodontist repositions teeth, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon uses orthognathic surgery to reposition one or both jaws. Just as "orthodontics" means "straight teeth", "orthognathic" means "straight jaws". In fact, because moving the jaws also moves the teeth, orthognathic surgery is usually performed in conjunction with orthodontics so that the teeth are in proper position after surgery. The objective of orthognathic surgery is the correction of a wide range of minor and major facial and jaw irregularities, and benefits include an improved ability to chew, speak and breathe. In many cases, an enhanced appearance can also result.

People who can potentially benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite and those with jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a slow and gradual process, and in some instances, upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that can affect chewing, function, speech, long-term oral health, and appearance. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. While orthodontics alone can correct many "bite" problems if only the teeth are involved, orthognathic surgery may be required if the jaw also needs repositioning.

Conditions that may indicate a need for Orthognathic surgery:


  • Difficulty chewing or biting food

  • Chronic jaw pain

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Excessive wearing of teeth

  • Open bite (space between upper and lower front or back teeth when the mouth is closed)

  • Speech problems

  • Unbalanced facial appearance

  • Facial injury or birth defects

  • Receding chin

  • Protruding jaw

  • Inability to make lips meet without effort

  • Chronic mouth breathing with dry mouth

  • Sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping such as snoring, difficulty breathing, etc.)

The unequal growth of the jaws, injury or birth defects can produce problems and symptoms that require treatment by a team that usually includes an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, an orthodontist, and sometimes your dentist. In order to determine if you are a candidate for orthognathic surgery, an evaluation of your condition is necessary.

In diagnosing your need for orthognathic surgery, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon and the orthodontist will work closely together. The orthodontist is responsible for moving the teeth so they will fit together properly after the jaws have been repositioned, and the oral surgeon is responsible for repositioning the jaw(s) so the teeth and jaws are in proper alignment. Depending on the extent of your problem, orthodontic treatment alone may be sufficient, or orthognathic surgery may be indicated. Surgery can range from a minor movement of a single part of your dental arch to the repositioning of both jaws.

Orthognathic surgery moves your teeth and jaws into a new position that is more balanced, functional and healthy. Not only should you be able to bite and chew better than ever before, but your appearance and speech may be enhanced, as well. The results of orthognathic surgery can have a dramatic and positive effect on many aspects of your life. If you have any of the above mentioned conditions that may indicate a need for orthognathic surgery, please call us at Midland Oral Surgery and Implant Centers for a consultation.

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