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Orthognathic Surgery

The word orthognathic means "straight jaws." Orthognathic surgery is done to correct misalignments or other abnormalities in the maxilla (the upper jaw) and the mandible (the lower jaw). These abnormalities may be present at birth, or they may develop as the jaws grow. Alternatively, they may be the result of a traumatic injury.

Orthognathic surgery can correct functional problems caused by an imbalance of the jaw bones, such as speech problems, difficulty chewing, swallowing, and even difficulty breathing. It is also a very effective treatment for aesthetic concerns resulting from jaw misalignments. Orthognathic surgery can involve surgical procedures such as osteotomy (bone cut), bone grafts, or distraction osteogenesis ("stretching" the bone). Orthognathic care is generally conducted in stages, and treatment can take from a few months to over a year. Part of the treatment may also involve an orthodontic procedure such as braces, either before or after the surgery, to correctly align the teeth.

The surgery itself is usually done in the hospital, under general anesthesia. A short period of in-hospital recovery may be necessary, followed by at-home recovery time during which patients may have to limit strenuous activities like sports. Recovery from orthognathic surgery is rarely painful, though many patients experience facial swelling that can be severe for the first few days. Patients may need to limit their diet to liquid or soft foods for a short time after the surgery.

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