The thought of oral surgery is scary to most people, and “corrective jaw surgery” sounds like one of the most painful and intimidating procedures out there. While it is major oral surgery, corrective jaw surgery is also a common procedure that can correct a wide range of jaw problems including TMJ, speech impediments and difficulty breathing and chewing.

What is Corrective Jaw Surgery?

Also called “orthognathic surgery,” a corrective jaw procedure is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) who repositions the jaw to ensure proper alignment and function.

Some people may experience a dramatic alteration of their appearance depending on how off-set their jaw was prior to the procedure. Orthognathic surgery ranges in scope, so you will have to meet with an orthodontist to discuss whether or not you or your child qualify and whether a corrective procedure is the best course of treatment.

Most Common Reasons for Corrective Jaw Surgery

Orthognathic surgery can benefit many different patients, especially those whose jaws are weak, protruding or have an “open” bite with teeth that do not meet. Other conditions that may qualify someone for corrective jaw surgery include:

  • TMJ that causes chronic jaw pain and headaches.

  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or breathing due to jaw positioning.

  • Speech problems caused by misalignment.

  • People recovering from facial injuries.

  • Sleep apnea and snoring caused by poor jaw alignment.

Can Children Have Corrective Jaw Surgery?

Many pediatric skeletal problems are corrected at a young age through orthognathic surgery. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia lists several of the most common conditions child patients receive corrective jaw surgery for:

  • Cleft lift or cleft palate.

  • Isolated cleft palate.

  • Craniofacial microsomia.

  • Pierre Robin syndrome.

  • Craniosynostosis.

  • Treacher Collins syndrome.

Both children and adult patients must work extensively with an orthodontist and receive orthodontic treatment for months prior to surgery. Post-surgical follow-ups and management will ensure that the corrective procedure achieves its desired outcomes.

What Are the Benefits of Corrective Jaw Surgery?

Pain reduction for patients with TMJ, greater facial symmetry and improved speech, chewing, breathing and swallowing are all possible outcomes of orthognathic surgery. The extent of the procedure and outcomes vary from patient to patient, so working with a skilled orthodontist and OMS will help you make the best decision.