Orthognathic Surgery: Correction of Jaw & Facial Abnormalities

Genetic and environmental factors will sometimes create an imbalance in jaw development. When this occurs, jaw functions such as chewing and speech can be compromised. Usually there will be signs of this skeletal imbalance which affect not only the position of the teeth, but also affect the symmetry, shape and profile of the face.


Orthognathic surgical procedures may require treatment in the lower jaw (mandible), upper jaw (maxilla), or both jaws at the same time. These procedures are performed in the hospital with a general anaesthetic after careful planning and preparation. Most orthognathic patients also require orthodontic treatment which is initiated prior to the surgical procedure and is usually completed within 6 months following the surgery. Dr. Johnson performs orthognathic surgery at the General and Riverside sites of the Ottawa Hospital.


Common conditions which may benefit from orthognathic surgery include:


Mandibular Retrognathia

Characterized by a relatively small lower jaw and where the upper front teeth are usually well in front of the lower front teeth.


Mandibular Prognathia

Characterized by a relatively long lower jaw and where the upper teeth sit behind the lower front teeth.


Vertical Maxillary Excess

Characterized by a long lower face and commonly described as a person with a “gummy smile.”


Maxillary Constriction

Characterized by a narrow upper jaw and lower teeth which bite outside the upper teeth.


Open Bite

Characterized by teeth (most commonly in the anterior of the mouth) which don’t touch their corresponding teeth in the opposing jaw. This may have developed from a tongue posture or mouth breathing habit.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A concerning medical condition which can be caused by blockage of the air passage above the vocal chords due to relaxation of the tongue and throat tissues. Airway space in the throat and tongue regions is determined by the position of the upper and lower jaws. For some patients, surgical repositioning (advancement) of the jaws can eliminate their need to rely on night time respirators.

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