Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery

Malformations of the facial skeleton are more common and important than most people think. A size mismatch between the upper and lower jaw can lead to a difficulty in eating, temporomandibular joint problems, compromise facial aesthetics, and low self-esteem. Surgery to correct these skeletal malformations is performed to address the functional and cosmetic concerns of the patients. Form and function must go hand in hand, as the patient’s facial and skeletal structures are reconfigured. This type of surgery is always done in conjunction with a qualified orthodontist. Dr. Whitesides works closely with your orthodontist to properly diagnose and treat each patients’ skeletal malformation in order that the best possible result can be obtained.

Types of Jaw Surgery

  1. Small lower jaw or mandibular hypoplasia. This is most commonly encountered maxillofacial skeletal deformity affecting up to 2% of the population. These patients typically present with a concern relating to their deep overbite and compromised ability to chew. By moving the lower jaw forward, Dr. Whitesides is able to place the lower jaw into a more functional and esthetic position. This improves not only the patient’s ability to chew; but also their facial esthetics.
  2. Small upper jaw or maxillary hypoplasia. This skeletal deformity affects a small percentage of the population. It results in an unfavorable functional alignment of the upper jaw with respect to the lower jaw in the anterior, posterior, and transverse planes. In most cases, the upper jaw is not only too far back with respect to the lower jaw, but it is also too narrow. Many of these cases require a two stage treatment plan. The first phase is to widen the jaw in a procedure known as a surgically assisted rapid palatal expansion. Six to twelve months later the advancement of the upper jaw can be preformed.
  3. Large lower jaw (mandibular hyperplasia or prognathism) occurs when the lower jaw is growing in excess of the upper jaw and the rest of the face. These patients have significant under bites and few teeth touching, thus eating is extremely difficult and awkward in most of these cases. Surgery to correct these deformities is typically focused on moving the lower jaw backwards into a more functional and esthetic relationship with respect to the upper jaw and the reminder of the facial skeleton.
  4. Small chin or microgenia: This type of skeletal deformity typically occurs in patients with mandibular hyoplasia. A patient with a “weak chin” can have the deformity corrected by either placement of a plastic chin implant or a procedure where a small section of the lower jaw bone is advanced.