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Things to know before Jaw Surgery

Updated on April 30, 2014

What is Orthognathic Surgery??

Orthognathic surgery: the surgical manipulation of the elements of the facial skeleton to restore the proper anatomic and functional relationship in patients with dentofacial skeletal anomalies.

The following will determine if surgery is done on one or both jaw bones:

  • Under Bite
  • Over Bite
  • Cross Bite

Click the link for more in dept information on differences between bite types .

During orthognathic surgery the patient is sedated, then the surgeon will break the jaw and re-position accordingly. For example, people with an under-bite or Protruding jaw have the mandible broken and moved back into proper alignment.

Each experience is different

As I searched the many youtube channels and limited blogs I discovered one major thing. Every surgeon is different. I came across individuals whom had surgery on the lower jaw and were wire shut for 1-2 weeks. I also found blogs of people whom had surgery on one jaw and were wired for 3-7 days because the surgeon stabilized the jaw with screws and plates.

The biggest piece of advice I have is to talk over your plan with your surgeon. Each case is unique and only you and your surgeon can determine which route will be taken to ensure the best result.

Depending on your insurance the surgery may be partial to fully covered. An insurance company may provide pre-approval for a few nights in the hospital while another insurance company may only authorize the surgery as an outpatient surgery.

From research through different peoples experiences surgery will require hospital stay if a bone graft from the hip is needed.

For my experience my surgeon and I decided to wire my jaws shut initial for 4 weeks with removable bands for 4 additional weeks. However, after he saw how well I was healing he decided to leave me hard wired for 6 weeks. ( i'm in my 4th week as I write this article) The Surgeon didn't stabilize my jaw with screws or plates which is why I am wired for an extensive time.

Prepare for the weeks ahead

The thing that i did not give much thought about before my own surgery was preparation.

It is best to practice drinking from straws/syringes , blending your foods, not brushing the inside of your mouth.

The best thing to do is blend different foods together and discover what your palate can handle liquefied. I did not do try different blended foods before my surgery and discovered that mac and cheese was not appetizing to me through a straw the hard way.

Drinking through a straw was easy for me because i'm addicted to milk shakes from inn-n-out. But it is best to practice drinking through the straw while keeping your teeth locked together.

Not being able to brush the inside of your teeth will be hard to think about if you are wired shut. For me, it is unbearable. I have found that rinsing my mouth with warm salt water after meals helps with the feeling inside my mouth. I would also suggest purchasing a water pik from your local retailer. I purchased one from wal-mart for around $36-45. It is an investment I an happy I made.

The Water-pik is useful for assistance with bad breath, the icky feeling inside mouth and oral health. I first use the water pik with only water, then I brush my teeth and follow with water/mouthwash inside the water pik. It leaves my mouth feeling clean and cuts down on the icky feeling inside of the mouth.

( Please check with your Surgeon before purchasing Water Pik!!) Both my surgeon and orthodontist recommended the water pik.

Me swollen day 2 after surgery

Expect the following:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue (Mental & Physical)
  • Exhaustion
  • Frustration
  • Helpless Feeling
  • Hunger pain


Orthognathic Surgery will be used to move jaws into proper position. The feeling of pain will depend on the individual and the persons pain tolerance level.

There are three types of Malocclusion's under-bite, over-bite, and cross-bite. Which will determine if you need to have surgery on one or both jaws.

The best source for information on your specific surgery and weather your jaws will be wired shut for 2-6 weeks will be your surgeon. He can look at your mouth and make a plan with you to determine what will be best. It doesn't hurt to look through blogs and youtube videos for empathy, because the only person that can understand is someone with a similar experience.

Try different blended foods before your surgery. It is easier on you and those around you if you have an idea of what you want to eat/drink before surgery.

Purchase a water pik. It will help keep your mouth clean and you sane.

Expect that sometimes your emotions may get the best of you. As a human we cannot expect to control all responses especially in a new situation where we are basically starving. Do not worry if you break down crying with no apparent trigger, you have the right to cry.

Here are links to blogs I found helpful:

Jaws wired shut

Jaw Surgery

Good luck to all!!!


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