Harvard Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Procedures

Orthognathic surgery

Did you know . . . ?

Due to advances in surgical techniques and medical technologies, patients today rarely have their jaws wired shut following corrective jaw surgery.

Meaning “straight jaws,” orthognathic surgery refers to corrective surgery where the maxilla (upper jaw), the mandible (lower jaw), and dentoalveolar segments (sections of teeth) are repositioned to improve or restore bite, jaw function, facial contours, and/or speech. Jaw abnormalities and facial deformities may be caused by genetics, injury, or disease. While braces are commonly used to straighten teeth, many people require orthognathic surgery to properly align their bite.

Orthognathic surgery is normally planned and executed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in conjunction with an orthodontist. Working together, the orthodontist will work to position the teeth so that they will properly “occlude” following jaw surgery. It is also common to plan other procedures in connection with the orthognathic surgery-such as those involving the chin, cheekbones, nose, or neck-in order to provide the optimal aesthetics and facial contouring to accompany a repositioned jaw.

Orthognathic surgery is typically a “short stay” procedure during which facial bones are repositioned. Due to recent advancements in medical technologies and surgical materials, patients rarely experience having their “jaws wired shut,” known as intermaxillary fixation (IMF). Instead, today’s oral and maxillofacial surgeons use small titanium plates and screws to secure the patient's bones, allowing greater comfort and function to the patient during the immediate post-operative period.