Updated on February 7, 2024
7 min read

Jaw Surgery: Types of Surgeries, Costs & Recovery

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What Is Jaw (Orthognathic) Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is also called corrective jaw surgery. It treats misaligned jaws. 

Your jaw has two parts:

  • Upper jaw (maxilla)
  • Lower jaw (mandible)

The jaws may become misaligned due to genetics or long-term childhood habits like thumb-sucking. Jawbone misalignment can result in crooked teeth and a bad bite.

Children might need to undergo orthodontic treatment, like braces, before and/or after jaw surgery. This depends on the type of jaw misalignment they have.

Who Needs Jaw Surgery?

You might need orthognathic surgery if you have a severe jaw misalignment that doesn’t respond to non-surgical treatment.

Some examples of bite issues that may require surgery include:

  • Excessive overbite — when the upper jaw severely protrudes over the lower jaw
  • Underbite — when the lower jaw protrudes too far forward
  • Open Bite — when the upper and lower teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed

Only an orthodontist can determine whether you need orthognathic surgery, but other indicators may include:

  • A retruded chin and/ or receding jaw
  • Chronic jaw joint pain (TMJ) or related headaches
  • Chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • Obstructive sleep apnea or mouth breathing
  • Facial injuries or symmetry issues
  • Difficulties biting, chewing, swallowing, or closing your mouth
  • Certain congenital disabilities like cleft palate

Who are the Best Candidates for Jaw Surgery?

The best candidates for jaw surgery are teenagers or young adults whose jaws have stopped growing.6 The ideal age is around 17 to 21 for males and 14 to 16 for females.

Jaw surgery is usually recommended only if orthodontic treatment doesn’t work.

How Much Does Jaw Surgery Cost?

The cost of jaw surgery ranges from $3,000 to $80,000. Surgery to correct temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) can cost up to $50,000.

Many factors influence the cost of jaw surgery, including:

  • Location of the hospital
  • The complexity of the jaw disorder
  • Type of surgical procedure
  • Reason for surgery (medical or cosmetic)

Does Insurance Cover Jaw Surgery?

Yes, insurance may cover orthognathic surgery. You may qualify for insurance coverage if the procedure is considered medically necessary.

A surgical procedure may be deemed necessary when the skeletal irregularities cause:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Other breathing issues
  • Severe speech impediments
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Excessive wear on the teeth


Insurance may also cover jaw surgery to treat facial injuries or congenital jaw deformities. Jaw surgery is considered cosmetic if it’s elective and only improves your facial appearance.

What’s Included in the Cost of Jaw Surgery?

The total cost of jaw surgery includes various fees. Typically, the cost of orthognathic surgery consists of:

  • Hospital fees
  • Surgeon fees 
  • Orthodontic fees
  • Anesthesia fees

What Additional Costs Come with Jaw Surgery?

Many people need braces before and/ or after jaw surgery, which will incur an additional cost. The cost of braces varies based on the type:

Braces can help initiate, maintain, or finish aligning your teeth and jaw bones. Your orthodontist may recommend them as a complementary treatment to your orthognathic surgery.

How Can I Afford Jaw Surgery?

Insurance can help bring down the cost of your surgery. If you must pay out-of-pocket, also called self-pay, you can negotiate a discounted rate or a payment plan for jaw surgery. 

Surgeons often offer discounts and financing options to self-paying patients.

5 Types of Jaw Surgery

There are a few types of jaw surgery available. Depending on the severity of misalignment and jaw positioning, you may need:

1. Maxillary Osteotomy (Upper Jaw Surgery)

Maxillary osteotomy surgery corrects the position of the upper jaw. It can help correct an excessive overbite, crossbite, and open bite.

During the procedure, an oral surgeon makes an incision in the gums. They then cut, break, and move the upper jaw into the correct position.

Once the jaw is aligned, the surgeon will attach a small plastic wafer to the teeth. The wafer helps keep the upper jaw in the correct position. The jaw is fixed in place with titanium screws and metal plates.


2. Mandibular Osteotomy (Lower Jaw)

Mandibular osteotomy, or lower jaw surgery, corrects the position of the lower jaw. It’s commonly used to fix a severe underbite.

During the procedure, an oral surgeon moves the lower jawbone and fixes it into place. Depending on the patient’s bite alignment, they may move it forward or backward.

3. Genioplasty (Chin Surgery)

A genioplasty is a procedure used to correct severely receded chins. It’s typically considered a cosmetic surgery and therefore may not be eligible for insurance coverage.

During a genioplasty, your surgeon will either reposition your jawbone or place an implant to change the shape of your chin.7

4. Arthroplasty 

An open-joint arthroplasty (keyhole surgery) is a common operation to correct temporomandibular disorders (TMD). It doesn’t address jaw misalignment, but it can reduce pain from the joint disorder.


An arthroscope (small camera) is inserted into a small incision in front of the ear during this surgery. Then, scar tissue surrounding the joint is removed to relieve pain.

5. Arthrocentesis

Arthrocentesis is another operation that relieves pain from TMD. 

The operation uses sterile fluid to wash out the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and remove any debris inside the joint.

What Happens During Jaw Surgery? 

What happens during jaw surgery depends on which type your surgeon performs. To correct jaw misalignments, orthognathic surgery potentially involves:

  • Making an incision in the gums
  • Breaking the jawbone
  • Manipulating the jawbone(s) into the correct position
  • Fixing the jawbone(s) into place in this new position
  • Closing the incision

Does Jaw Surgery Hurt? 

You won’t feel anything during jaw surgery, thanks to general anesthesia. However, you may experience numbness or discomfort during recovery.

After you wake up, your upper lip, gums, and jaw will be numb for a few hours. You also can’t drive a car for 48 hours post-op.

Some people experience numbness for months following surgery. This is because the nerves are cut during the procedure and require re-growing time. 

Risks of Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery is generally safe, but all invasive surgeries come with risks. Some possible jaw surgery complications include:

  • Relapse of the jaws back into misalignment
  • Excessive bleeding during or after surgery
  • Jaw fracture
  • Temporary or permanent nerve damage
  • Poor bite after surgery
  • Recurring jaw pain
  • Allergic reaction to general anesthesia
  • Surgical site infection

Jaw Surgery Recovery & Aftercare

Most people can return home the day after surgery. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the bones to heal fully.

The recovery timeline for jaw surgery is as follows:

  • First few days ⁠— Your maxillofacial surgeon may prescribe painkillers and antibiotics after you leave the hospital.
  • 2 to 3 weeks ⁠— You may feel discomfort and soreness for the first few weeks after surgery. This is completely normal and should subside on its own.
  • After 3 weeks ⁠— The swelling should diminish. In some cases, swelling doesn’t disappear for several months.

Make sure you get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions.

What To Eat After Jaw Surgery

For the first few weeks after surgery, your diet should consist of soft foods only. This includes soups, smoothies, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.

You can eat normally once your jaw heals completely. Your surgeon will tell you when you can switch to a normal diet.

What Can Happen if You Neglect Jaw Surgery? 

If your dentist recommends jaw surgery, following their instructions is essential. Untreated jaw or tooth misalignments can cause:

Summary

Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery, can correct misaligned jawbones. It may fix an excessive overbite, underbite, crossbite, or other jaw issues that don’t respond to orthodontic treatment like traditional braces.

The best candidates for jaw surgery are young adults whose jaws have stopped developing. Orthognathic surgery typically involves breaking and repositioning the jaws. It can take a few weeks to a few months to recover fully.

Jaw surgery can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $80,000, depending on the specific procedure you need. Insurance may cover all or part of the cost if your provider determines the surgery is medically necessary.

Last updated on February 7, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 7, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders).” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2023.
  3. Kim, Y. “Complications Associated with Orthognathic Surgery.” Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, The Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 2017.
  4. Corrective Jaw Surgery.” American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 2021.
  5. Seo et al. “Current trends in orthognathic surgery.” Archives of Craniofacial Surgery, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  6. Frequently Asked Questions.” Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, 2023.
  7. Chin Surgery (Genioplasty).” University of Michigan Surgery, University of Michigan Health, 2023.
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