Orthognathic Surgery

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Orthognathic surgery is needed when the top and bottom jaws don’t meet correctly and/or teeth don’t adequately fit within the jaw. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics, and corrective jaw surgery repositions a misaligned jaw. This not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly.

Dr. Gallagher has been providing patients with orthognathic surgery services since the late 1970s.  He has authored scientific articles and contributed to textbooks on orthognathic surgery, which other oral surgeons have referenced over many years.  His unique surgical experience and superior communication skills enhance long-term successful outcomes for patients that require orthognathic surgery.

Orthognathic Surgery Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of orthognathic surgery, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to orthognathic surgery are discussed.

Who needs orthognathic surgery?

When someone has a bad bite, it is often a combination of a tooth position problem within bone as well as a bone growth mismatch.  That is, orthodontic therapy moves teeth whereas orthognathic surgery moves bone.  As many as 20% of people with a bad bite have a combination of a skeletal growth issue as well as a tooth position malocclusion.  The orthodontist moves the teeth in conjunction with the oral surgeon who will move the upper and/or lower jaws.  The goal is to attain maximum meshing of teeth and proper alignment between the upper and lower jaws that coincides with the hinge axis movement of jaw closure.

Commonly, when the teeth and bones do not properly aligned, chewing forces are excessively placed upon the temporomandibular joints, and the discs within the temporomandibular joints may become displaced.  That is, teeth are hard, bones are hard, and the ligaments and discs within the temporomandibular joints are soft.  So what gives?…  The joints.  A thorough evaluation of the temporomandibular joints is part of the process of managing bone and tooth misalignment.

Difficulty in the following areas should be evaluated:

  • Difficulty in chewing, biting, or swallowing
  • Speech problems
  • Chronic jaw or TMJ pain
  • Open bite
  • Protruding jaw
  • Breathing problems

Any of these symptoms can exist at birth, be acquired after birth as a result of hereditary or environmental influences, or as a result of trauma to the face. Before any treatment begins, a consultation will begin a complete examination with x-rays. During the pre-treatment consultation process, feel free to ask any questions that you have regarding your treatment. When you are fully informed about the aspects of your care, you and your dental team can make the decision to proceed with treatment together.

Understanding Orthognathic Surgery

Dr. Gallagher uses three-dimensional models to show you exactly how your surgery will be approached. This helps you understand the surgical process and the extent of the proposed treatment.

If you are a candidate for corrective jaw surgery, Dr. Gallagher will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist during your treatment. The actual surgery can move your teeth and jaws into a new position that results in a more attractive, functional, and healthy dental-facial relationship.

A patient getting a panoramic x-ray of her jaw

What to Expect

  • Corrective jaw surgery is a significant intervention requiring many months of preparation.
  • The surgery is performed as a day surgery and can last between one to four hours. It is unusual for patients in this practice to have to stay overnight in the hospital following orthognathic surgery.
  • Braces remain on the teeth during surgery and are used to attach rubber bands to help control jaw position while you heal.
  • Every patient receives thorough preoperative teaching of what to expect, and how to take care of themselves following of orthognathic surgery.
  • Patients typically may be off work/school about 10 – 12 days following surgery.
  • Patients will be on a non-chew menu for a minimum of 3 months following surgery. This does not mean that the patient receives a liquid diet. Only soft foods, that do not need chewing. For example: soft pasta, well-steamed vegetables, shredded meats and most casserole foods.
  • Return to normal chewing function may take a few months and full
    function may take one year.
  • Our goal is to ensure you are well taken care of during and after surgery.
  • Weekly appointments are required for the first month after surgery.

Every patient that receives orthognathic surgery is unique. Our office takes great care in communicating and educating every patient, and their caring family members, on what to expect following surgery. We can even introduce you to patients that have received similar procedures that may be recommended for you. This makes are care of very unique. Patients are discouraged from assuming that orthognathic surgical care and follow-up management may be similar to what other patients may have received as treatment in another oral surgical setting.