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Treatment for Malocclusion

Topic Overview

Orthognathic surgery treats malocclusion ("poor bite") by restructuring the jaw through cutting the bone and repositioning the bone segments.

Adults who have jaw-related malocclusion are sometimes offered a choice between simple orthodontic treatment and orthodontic treatment combined with orthognathic surgery. Adults who have severe jaw problems may need surgery to improve their looks and how the jaw works. Severe jaw problems can include upper jaws that don't match with the lower jaws.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons or plastic surgeons perform this surgery using general anesthesia. Recovery takes several weeks. While the bone slowly heals, the jaw is held in place with wires or plates and screws.

The most common problem after this surgery is numbness of the upper or lower lip (paresthesia). Other risks include infection, bleeding (hemorrhage), swelling, muscle spasm, and temporomandibular disorder.

For most people, orthognathic surgery is elective, based on personal choice. Because orthognathic surgery requires a long and difficult recovery period, you should carefully weigh the benefits against the hardship and expense of the surgery.

For those few people who also have serious functional problems, such as problems with chewing or closing the mouth, orthognathic surgery may be a necessity.

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By Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
William F. Hohlt, DDS - Orthodontics
Last Revised January 2, 2013

Last Revised: January 2, 2013

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