What is orthognathic surgery?

Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery, is a treatment to correct moderate to severe jaw misalignment that cannot be fully addressed with orthodontics. Jaw surgery is typically performed during the teenage years.  

Benefits of orthognathic surgery

Proper alignment of the jaw can improve a child’s ability to breathe, chew, and speak. It can also create a more balanced facial profile and smile. If jaw misalignment is left untreated it may cause premature tooth wear, pain, temporomandibular joint problems, and other complications.  

Causes of jaw abnormalities

Children without any medical conditions or trauma can also develop jaw abnormalities.

Potential signs

  • Severe underbite or overbite
  • Open bite
  • Difficulty closing mouth completely
  • Uneven or asymmetrical jaws
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing food
  • Snoring or sleep apnea

Orthognathic surgery

During the procedure, the surgeon will properly align the jaw and secure the bones in place using small plates and screws. Each child’s surgery will be tailored to their specific needs in order to achieve maximum jaw alignment and functionality. Most children require orthodontic treatment for several months prior to and after orthognathic surgery.

Common types of orthognathic surgery

Le Fort I Osteotomy: During this procedure a surgeon separates the upper jaw from the other facial bones. The upper teeth can then be moved and rotated to properly align with the lower teeth.

Bilateral Sagittal Split Osteotomy (BSSO): This procedure involves making an incision to the lower jaw and then moving it to properly align with the upper jaw. 

Genioplasty: Genioplasty is a surgical movement of the chin bone and is often performed along with Le Fort I osteotomy or BSSO.

Learn more about CHKD’s Plastic and Oral Maxillofacial program.