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Updated on May 19, 2023
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Jaw Surgery: Types of Surgeries, Costs & Recovery

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What Is Jaw (Orthognathic) Surgery?

Your jaw has two parts: the upper jaw (maxilla) and the lower jaw (mandible). Jaws often become misaligned during childhood. Jaw bone misalignment can result in crooked teeth and an 'off bite.'

Orthognathic surgery, also called corrective jaw surgery, may be necessary to straighten misaligned jaws. 

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

Who Needs Jaw Surgery?

Jaw irregularities are usually genetic. They can also arise from childhood habits like thumb sucking and mouth breathing.

Some examples of bite issues that may require surgery include:

  • 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

Other indicators for jaw surgery include:

  • Other bite problems that cause jaw misalignment
  • A retruded chin and/ or receding jaw
  • Chronic jaw joint pain (TMJ)
  • Severe headaches associated with jaw pain
  • Chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • Obstructive sleep apnea or mouth breathing
  • Facial injuries
  • Difficulties biting, chewing, or swallowing
  • Not being able to close your lips without straining them
  • Certain congenital disabilities like cleft palate
  • Facial symmetry problems

Who are the Best Candidates for Jaw Surgery?

Children are typically the best candidates for corrective jaw surgery. This is because their jaws aren't fully developed. If caught early, jaw disorders might be fixable with just orthodontic treatment.

Once the jaw fully develops in adulthood, treatment options for severe misalignment are limited. An orthodontist may recommend jaw surgery at this stage.

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?

Orthognathic surgery may be covered by health insurance.

Some insurance companies may consider corrective jaw surgery 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, including the use of the operating room and administrative staff fees
  • Surgeon fees, including the time it takes to operate and communicate with the dentist or orthodontist 
  • Orthodontic fees, including X-rays, dental impressions, and surgical planning
  • Anesthesia fees

What additional costs might come with jaw surgery?

Many people need braces before and/or after jaw surgery. Braces help achieve and maintain proper alignment of the teeth. After the braces come off, a retainer is necessary to prevent the teeth from shifting.

The cost of braces varies based on the type:

  • Traditional metal braces can cost $1,500 to $3,500
  • Self-ligating braces can cost $1,500 to $3,000
  • Ceramic braces can cost $2,000 to $4,250
  • Lingual braces can cost $2,500 to $6,500
  • Clear aligner trays like Invisalign® can cost $3,000 to $9,000

Are there discounts for jaw surgery available?

People who pay out-of-pocket, also called self-pay, may be able to negotiate a discounted rate 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. During the procedure, an oral surgeon makes an incision in the gums.

The surgeon cuts, breaks, and moves the upper jaw into the correct position. Then they attach a small plastic wafer to the teeth. The wafer helps align the upper jaw. The jaw is fixed in place with titanium screws and metal plates.

Upper jaw surgery can correct an overbite, crossbite, and open bite.

2. Mandibular Osteotomy (Lower Jaw)

Mandibular osteotomy surgery, 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. Depending on the patient's bite alignment, they may move it forward or backward.

3. Genioplasty (Chin Surgery)

Genioplasties correct severely receded chins.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Surgeries

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) causes severe pain in the jaw and muscles that control jaw movement.

An arthroplasty or arthrocentesis surgery may be used to correct TMD:

4. Arthroplasty

An open-joint arthroplasty (keyhole surgery) is a common operation to correct TMD.

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

5. Arthrocentesis

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

Jaw Surgery Recovery & Aftercare

After the surgery, most people can return home the following day. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the bones to heal fully.

The recovery timeline for jaw surgery is as follows:

  • You may feel discomfort and soreness for the first two to three weeks after surgery. This is completely normal.
  • The swelling should diminish after about 3 weeks. In some cases, swelling doesn’t disappear for several months.
  • Make sure you sleep well, drink plenty of water, and follow your surgeon's aftercare instructions.
  • Your maxillofacial surgeon may prescribe painkillers and antibiotics after you leave the hospital.

Does Jaw Surgery Hurt? 

General anesthesia is administered before the procedure. This ensures you won't feel anything during the operation.

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 time to re-grow. 

Risks of Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery is generally safe. But all invasive surgeries come with risks.

Some possible jaw surgery complications include:

  • Relapse
  • 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

What To Eat After Jaw Surgery

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

You can eat normally once your jaw heals completely. Your surgeon will let you know when it's time.

What Can Happen if You Neglect Jaw Surgery? 

If your dentist recommends jaw surgery, it's essential to follow their instructions.

Untreated overbites, underbites, and other jaw misalignments can cause:

Last updated on May 19, 2023
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 19, 2023
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).
  1. Jaw Surgery.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Jan. 2018.
  2. Khechoyan, David. “Orthognathic Surgery: General Considerations.” Seminars in Plastic Surgery.
  3. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders).” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. Kim, Young-Kyun. “Complications Associated with Orthognathic Surgery.” Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, The Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, Feb. 2017.
  5. Corrective Jaw Surgery American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, n.d.
  6. Seo, HJ, and Choi, Y, “Current trends in orthognathic surgery,” 20 Dec. 2021
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