Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)

Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)

Reconstructive and Corrective Procedures

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Jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) may be an option if you have a severe overbite, underbite, or cross bite. Jaw surgery may also be appropriate to treat teeth misalignment (malocclusion), chronic jaw pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ankylosis (jaw bones fused in your joint), and jaw problems related to facial trauma, deformity, and disease. Your treatment plan may significantly reduce pain or difficulty with chewing, swallowing, speaking, sleeping, and breathing. It can also improve related problems such as headaches and sleep apnea.

Corrective jaw surgery may successfully treat a protruding jaw (prognathism), severely receded or "weak" chin (retrognathia), or unbalanced facial features. Jaw surgery can result in a more balanced and attractive facial appearance. 

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Consultation and Examination

We discuss your reasons for pursuing corrective jaw surgery, your desired outcome and expected results. We conduct a thorough medical history, including your family history, general health status, previous operations, and any medications you may be taking.  We examine your features, and take photographs for your medical record. Finally, we recommend a course of treatment that meets your needs. We discuss the potential risks and complications, and your post-operation recovery.

Blood Tests

Pre-surgical testing may require several blood tests to test your liver and kidney function, and to determine if you have any infection, blood disorder, or anemia, that may have gone previously undetected.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.



Braces may be used before surgery to align your teeth, and may remain on your teeth for nine to 18 months. They may also be used to maintain teeth positioning after jaw surgery.

Upper Jaw Surgery

Bone above your teeth is either shaven away, or cut and moved to properly realign your jaw and teeth. The incision is made inside your mouth, and leaves no external scars. Screws and plates hold the bone in its new position. Recovery takes several weeks and includes a liquid or soft diet. Usually, your jaw does not need to be wired shut.

Lower Jaw Surgery

Bone behind your molars is cut, and the front of the jaw is moved to its new position as one unit. The incisions are made inside your mouth, and leaves no external scars. Screws hold the jawbone in its new position as it heals. Recovery takes several weeks and includes a liquid or soft diet . Usually, your jaw does not need to be wired shut.

Chin Surgery

In genioplasty, the chin bone is cut and slid forward/backward or shortened to improve your facial appearance. The incision is made inside your mouth, and leaves no external scar. The bone is held in its new position with a small metal plate and screws. This is often performed at the same time as jaw surgery. Recovery takes several weeks. 

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Why Choose Duke

Surgical Expertise in the Mouth, Jaw, and Face 
Our plastic and reconstructive surgeons undergo advanced training in surgical procedures of the head, neck, jaws, and face (often referred to as the maxillofacial region). Our expert team includes craniofacial surgeons, oral-maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, and dentists.

Respected Surgeons
Our plastic surgeons share their experience by teaching advanced reconstructive techniques to doctors across the country and around the world. Our combined skill and leadership means you work with some of the most knowledgeable and experienced plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the U.S.

Personalized Treatment Recommendations
​After an extensive consultation and careful evaluation, we recommend which type of procedure, or combination of procedures, will give you the results you want.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.