Orthognathic Surgery (Jaw Surgery)

Orthognathic surgery is needed when the top and bottom jaws don’t meet correctly and/or teeth don’t adequately fit within the jaw. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics, and corrective jaw surgery repositions a misaligned jaw. This not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly.

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Who Needs Orthognathic Surgery?

People who can benefit from orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite, or jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a gradual process and in some instances, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that may affect chewing function, speech, or long-term oral health and appearance. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. Orthodontics alone can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved. Orthognathic surgery may be required for the jaws when repositioning is necessary.

Difficulty in the following areas should be evaluated:

  • Difficulty in chewing, biting, or swallowing
  • Speech problems
  • Chronic jaw or TMJ pain
  • Open bite
  • Protruding jaw
  • Breathing problems

Any of these symptoms can exist at birth, be acquired after birth as a result of hereditary or environmental influences, or as a result of trauma to the face. Before any treatment begins, a consultation will be held to perform a complete examination with x-rays. During the pre-treatment consultation process, feel free to ask any questions that you have regarding your treatment. When you are fully informed about the aspects of your care, you and your dental team can make the decision to proceed with treatment together.

Technology & Orthognathic Surgery

Dr. Kawahara uses modern computer-aided techniques and three-dimensional models to show you exactly how your surgery will be approached. Using comprehensive facial x-rays and computer video imaging, we can show you how your bite will be improved and even give you an idea of how you’ll look after surgery. This helps you understand the surgical process and the extent of the proposed treatment.

If you are a candidate for corrective jaw surgery, Dr. Kawahara will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist during your treatment. The actual surgery can move your teeth and jaws into a new position that results in a more attractive, functional, and healthy dental-facial relationship.

Woman receiving a dental x-ray

What to Expect

  • Corrective jaw surgery is a significant intervention requiring many months of preparation.
  • The surgery is performed in the hospital and can last between one to four hours.
  • Hospital stays of one to three days are normal.
  • Braces are maintained during surgery and may need to be removed six to twelve months after surgery.
  • The greatest impact of orthognathic surgery is the recovery phase.
  • Patients typically may be off work/school from two weeks to one month after surgery.
  • Return to normal chewing function may take 2 months and full
    function may take one year.
  • Our goal is to ensure you are well taken care of during and after surgery.
  • Weekly appointments are required for up to two months after surgery.

Ready to Improve Your Smile?

Call us with any questions or to make an appointment.

Torrance Office Appointments

Lindon K. Kawahara, MD, DMD, Inc.

5 out of 5 stars based on 1 Jaw Surgery reviews.

Patient Review by Mori K

I visited the website for the first time since my surgery approximately 23 and 35 years ago from Dr. Kawahara and I thought it would be helpful for future patients to understand the result of his procedures over the long term. At the age of approximately 16, Dr. Kawahara had extracted my wisdom teeth. I remember that it was my first experience to go through any type of surgery under general anesthesia and the surgery was at his old location on Redondo Beach Blvd. The wisdom teeth extraction was smooth and while I experienced normal post-surgery pains, I had no complications. Dr. Kawahara and his team of staff gave excellent care. Since I was young, I had a significant underbite, and consequently I had trouble eating things properly. For example, when I would have a sandwich, my underbite would require that I bite a sandwich multiple times in order to cut the sandwich into bite size. I believe anyone who has under or overbite experiences this to some degree. My parents asked Dr. Kawahara whether I should get a surgery, he recommended that I wait until I stopped growing, so that additional procedures can be avoided in the future. Therefore, I waited until my early 20s to visit Dr. Kawahara. At around the age of 22, I visited Dr. Kawahara at his current location, and determined together with Dr. Kawahara that I should now go through the surgery. Since this is not a procedure that most people go through, I had significant amount of anxiety and concerns. Dr. Kawahara was very clear on the steps necessary as well as potential complications such as numbness that may persist where he operates. This process was long: First, Dr. Kawahara recommended that I have my teeth realigned by having braces for about 2 years under the care of an orthodontist. After I was deemed to be ready, Dr. Kawahara operated on my jaw and after the surgery my mouth was to remain wired shut. As Dr. Kawahara had mentioned, there were numb areas to the lower left part of the face, but Dr. Kawahara reassured me that while it may take some time, numbness should subside over time. After a few months, and numbness started to disappear, and I remember feeling astonished that I can eat things properly that I could not easily before. Now after more than 20 years, I still believe that it was a right choice for me to have undergone the surgery in order to have my bite corrected, and by a doctor and a team of staff who really cared each step of the way. The surgical procedure remains excellent over the long-term, and I can strongly recommend Dr. Kawahara with confidence. I have no numbness and my bite remains great.

- Mori K

5 out of 5 stars on