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Orthodontic Surgery

Surgical orthodontics, also called orthognathic surgery, is corrective jaw surgery performed to remedy skeletal problems that affect the ability to bite, chew and speak.

orthodontic hand tools
orthodontist and patient

Do I Need Orthognathic Surgery?

Surgical orthodontics may be necessary for someone whose upper and lower jaws, which hold the teeth, are out of position. Consequently, the upper and lower teeth don’t fit, impairing the ability to bite, chew, or speak. Your orthodontist will work in conjunction with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to position your jaws and teeth for optimal function.

What Comes First: Orthognathic Surgery or Treatment?

Orthodontic treatment usually comes before orthognathic surgery. The purpose is to align teeth so that they fit correctly after surgery is performed. Orthodontic treatment continues for a time after surgery to bring teeth into their final, optimal positions for good function.

Treatment Plan

Much of the treatment provided by orthodontists is “camouflage” in nature. Teeth are shifted to hide underlying jaw and tooth-size discrepancies. In cases where the underlying problems are too great to be addressed by conventional wires and brackets, moving the jaws may be required.
The Consultation

Jaw surgery, officially orthognathic surgery, requires a team approach between the patient, the orthodontist, and the surgeon. If your orthodontist feels that you would benefit by having orthognathic surgery, he will usually refer you to an oral surgeon before your braces even go on.


There are many different procedures used by oral surgeons to correct the relationship between your jaws. These procedures are major surgeries that require an overnight stay in the hospital. Your oral surgeon will discuss the details at your consultation.


Because it is a major surgery, most patients should plan to take a week off of school or work. There will also be dietary changes for several weeks during the healing. Your recovery is something you should discuss with your oral surgeon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Browse our list of frequently asked questions about orthognathic surgery. If you can’t find an answer to your question, contact us and we will supply you with an answer and any other information you may need.