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Orthognathic surgery

  Orthognathic surgery is surgery to correct conditions of the jaw and face related to structure, growth, sleep apnea, TMJ disorders or to correct orthodontic problems that cannot be easily treated with braces. It is also used in treatment of congenital conditions like cleft palate[1]. Bones can be cut and re-aligned, held in place with plates and screws.


The Surgeon

Currently orthognathic surgery is mainly performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon almost always in collaboration with orthodontic treatment, often including braces before and after surgery, and retainers after the final removal of braces. Orthognathic surgery is often needed after reconstruction of cleft palate or other major craniofacial anomalies. Careful coordination between the surgeon and orthodontist is essential to ensure that the teeth will fit correctly after the surgery.


Planning for the surgery usually involves input from a multidisciplinary team. Involved professionals are Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons, Orthodontists, and sometimes a Speech and language therapist. As the surgery usually results in a noticeable change in the patient's face a psychological assessment is occasionally required to assess patient's need for surgery and its predicted effect on the patient.

Radiographs and photographs are taken to help in the planning [2]and there are software to predict the shape of the patient's face after surgery [3], which is useful both for planning [4]and for explaining the surgery to the patient and the patient's family. Advanced software can allow the patient to see the predicted results of the surgery.

The Procedure

The surgery might involve one jaw or the two jaws during the same procedure. The modification is done by making cuts in the bones of the mandible and / or maxilla and repositioning the cut pieces in the desired alignment. Usually surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and using nasal tube for intubation rather than the more commonly used oral tube, this is to allow wiring the teeth together during surgery. The surgery often does not involve cutting the skin, and instead, the surgeon is often able to go through the inside of the mouth.

Cutting the bone is called osteotomy and in case of performing the surgery on the two jaws at the same time it is called a bi-maxillary osteotomy (two jaws bone cutting) or a maxillomandibular advancement. The bone cutting is traditionally done using special electrical saws and burs, and manual chisels. Recently a machine that can make the bone cuts using ultra-sound waves has been introduced; this is yet to be used on a wide scale. The maxilla can be adjusted using a " Lefort I" level osteotomy (most common). Sometimes the midface can be mobilised as well by using a Lefort II, or Lefort III osteotomy. These techniques are utilized extensively for children suffering from certain craniofacial abnormalities such as Crouzon syndrome.

The jaws will be wired together (inter-maxillary fixation) using stainless steel wires during the surgery to insure the correct re-positioning of the bones, this in most cases is released before the patient wakes up. If the surgeon is not satisfied with the anchoring, he may elect to keep the jaws wired together. This is a considerably recent modification as the usage of the modern types of bone plates reduced the need for wiring the jaws together for a few weeks after surgery as was the case before. Some surgeons prefer to wire the jaws shut anyway to ensure proper healing of the bones, those are becoming more of a minority among orthognathic surgeons.


Like any other surgery there can be some complications like bleeding ,swelling, infection , nausea and vomiting [5]. There also could be some numbness in the face due to nerve damage. The numbness may be either temporary, or (more rarely) permanent[6]. In general complications of this sugery occur but not frequently [7]

If the surgery involved the upper jaw, then the surgery could have an effect on the shape of the patient's nose. This can be minimised by careful planning and accurate execution of the surgical plan. Sometimes, this is considered part of the benefit.

Root Canal/s (some teeth have more than one root canal) treatment is sometimes required after surgery, especially when the surgery involves a maxillary osteotomy. [8] In recent years, techniques have been created that may help reduce the need for root canal surgery.[9], however, it is still a common complication that can occur.

After the Operation

After orthognathic surgery, patients are often required to adhere to an all-liquid diet. After time, soft food can be introduced, and then hard food. Diet is very important after the surgery, to accelerate the healing process. Weight loss due to lack of appetite and the liquid diet is common, but should be avoided if possible. Normal recovery time can range from a few weeks for minor surgery, to up to a year for more complicated surgery.

For some surgeries, pain may be minimal due to minor nerve damage and lack of feeling. Doctors will prescribe pain medication and prophylatic antibiotics to the patient. Many doctors recommend that the patient rent a specialized machine that circulates cold water through pads on the face to help the swelling go down. Most of the swelling will disappear in the first few weeks, but some may remain for a few months.

The surgeon will see the patient for check-ups frequently, to check on the healing, check for infection, and to make sure nothing has moved. The frequency of visits will decrease over time. If the surgeon is unsatisfied with the way the bone is mending, he may recommend additional surgery to rectify whatever may have shifted. It is very important to avoid any chewing until the surgeon is satisfied with the healing.

See also


  1. ^ Josip Bill, Peter Proff, Thomas Bayerlein, Torsten Blens, Tomas Gerdrange and Jürgen Reuther Orthognathic surgery in cleft patients ,Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 34, Supplement 2, September 2006, Pages 77-81
  2. ^ Misckowski RA et al Application of an augmented reality tool for maxillary positioning in orthognathic surgery - A feasibility study. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2006 Dec;34(8):478-83. Epub 2006 Dec 8
  3. ^ Uechi J. et al; A novel method for the 3-dimensional simulation of orthognathic surgery by using a multimodal image-fusion technique ,American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Volume 130, Issue 6, December 2006, Pages 786-798
  4. ^ M. Tsuji, N. Noguchi, M. Shigematsu, Y. Yamashita, K. Ihara, M. Shikimori and M. Goto A new navigation system based on cephalograms and dental casts for oral and maxillofacial surgery International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 35, Issue 9, September 2006, Pages 828-836.
  5. ^ Alessandro C. Silva, Felice O’Ryan and David B. Poor ; Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting (PONV) After Orthognathic Surgery: A Retrospective Study and Literature Review, Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 64, Issue 9, September 2006, Pages 1385-1397
  6. ^ A.W. Eckert, P. Maurer, M.S. Kriwalsky and J. Schubert ;Complications in orthognathic surgery , Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 34, Supplement 1, September 2006, Page 206
  7. ^ Panula K, Finne K, Oikarinen K. Incidence of complications and problems related to orthognathic surgery: a review of 655 patients. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2001;59:1128-36;
  8. ^ Panula, K. Correction of dentofacial deformities with orthognathic surgery: Outcome of treatment with special reference to costs, benefits and risks
  9. ^ Panula K, Finne K, Oikarinen K. Incidence of complications and problems related to orthognathic surgery: a review of 655 patients. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2001;59:1128-36;
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Orthognathic_surgery". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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