Jaw Surgery Explained: What to Expect Before, During, and After

Jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, corrects significant jaw misalignments impacting appearance and function, such as chewing and speaking. Beyond cosmetic benefits, it greatly improves quality of life. Success hinges on choosing an experienced orthodontist for precise planning and care. 

This guide outlines each stage of the journey, emphasising the orthodontist’s role in achieving optimal results. Whether for health or aesthetics, understanding the process is the first step towards a successful outcome.

Understanding Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgeries are tailored to address a variety of conditions, each with specific aims and outcomes. These are the types of jaw surgery and explore why many opt for this transformative treatment.

Types of Jaw Surgery

  • Maxillary Osteotomy (Upper Jaw)

This surgery corrects issues with the upper jaw, such as an overbite or crossbite, by repositioning it for better alignment.

  • Mandibular Osteotomy (Lower Jaw)

Aimed at the lower jaw, this procedure can remedy an underbite by moving the jawbone forward or backward, as needed.

  • Genioplasty (Chin Surgery)

Often performed in conjunction with other jaw surgeries, this adjusts the chin’s position to improve facial harmony.

  • Bimaxillary Osteotomy (Both Jaws)

For cases requiring adjustments to both the upper and lower jaws, this comprehensive approach ensures that the entire facial structure is aligned.

Reasons for Undergoing Jaw Surgery

  • Aesthetic Concerns

Many seek jaw surgery to correct imbalances in their facial profile, aiming for a more symmetrical and proportionate appearance.

  • Functional Improvements

Beyond aesthetics, jaw surgery can significantly enhance functionality, making it easier to chew, speak, and breathe—activities that are often taken for granted until issues arise.

  • Health Benefits

Correcting jaw misalignment can also alleviate chronic pain and discomfort associated with conditions like TMJ disorders, sleep apnea, and other health issues stemming from jaw discrepancies.

What to Expect Before Jaw Surgery

Understanding what to expect before the procedure can help alleviate any concerns and set the stage for a smooth and successful experience.

  • First Steps

Your journey starts with consultations with both an orthodontist and a maxillofacial surgeon. These specialists will collaborate closely throughout your treatment.

  • Choosing the Right Specialist

Selecting an experienced orthodontist is crucial, as they will oversee the pre-surgical and post-surgical orthodontic phases, ensuring your teeth are properly aligned with the new jaw position.

Diagnostic Tests and Planning

  • Comprehensive Evaluation

Your orthodontist and surgeon will conduct a thorough examination of your teeth, jaws, and facial structure, often utilising X-rays and 3D imaging.

  • Creating a Treatment Plan

Based on these diagnostics, they will develop a detailed treatment plan. This plan addresses both aesthetic goals and functional improvements, custom-tailored to your specific needs.

  • Visualising the Outcome

Advanced imaging techniques may be used to simulate the potential outcomes of surgery, helping you visualise the changes and set realistic expectations.

Preparing Mentally and Physically for Surgery

  • Mental Preparation

Understanding the scope of the surgery and the recovery process is key. Feel free to discuss any concerns or questions with your orthodontist and surgeon to ease your mind.

  • Physical Preparation

You may be advised to follow specific dietary guidelines, avoid certain medications, and maintain optimal oral hygiene leading up to the surgery.

  • Practical Arrangements

Arrange for time off work or school and plan for someone to assist you post-surgery, as you’ll need time to rest and recover.

During Jaw Surgery

Understanding what happens during the surgery can help ease any nerves and prepare you for what lies ahead.

  • Preparation

Upon arrival at the hospital or surgical centre, you’ll go through final pre-operative preparations, which include reviewing your medical history and undergoing any last-minute examinations to ensure you’re ready for surgery.

  • The Surgical Team

Your surgical team, led by your oral and maxillofacial surgeon, will include anesthesiologists, nurses, and possibly a resident surgeon or surgical assistants, all working together to ensure the procedure goes smoothly.

Anesthesia and the Role of the Surgical Team

  • Anaesthesia

For your comfort and safety, jaw surgery is typically performed under general anaesthesia, meaning you’ll be asleep throughout the procedure. The anesthesiologist will monitor your vital signs and adjust anaesthesia levels as necessary.

  • Team Coordination

Throughout the surgery, the team’s coordination is key. The surgeon focuses on the precise adjustments to your jaw, while the anesthesiologist and nurses ensure you remain stable and comfortable.

What Patients Can Expect in Terms of Duration and Procedural Steps

Duration: The length of jaw surgery can vary widely, often ranging from one to several hours, depending on the complexity of the case and whether one or both jaws are being operated on.

Procedural Steps:

  • Incisions

The surgeon makes incisions inside your mouth to minimise visible scarring. In some cases, small external incisions may be necessary.

  • Adjusting the Jaw

The jawbone is cut, moved, and secured into its new position with screws and plates. These adjustments are made according to the pre-surgical plan.

  • Closure

Once the jaw is correctly aligned, the incisions are sutured closed. These sutures usually dissolve on their own during the healing process.

  • Recovery Room

After the surgery, you’ll be moved to a recovery room where you’ll gradually wake up from anaesthesia under close monitoring.

After Jaw Surgery

Here’s what you can expect after your surgery, from the immediate care in the hospital to the recovery process at home and the long-term follow-up care.

  • Waking Up

After surgery, you’ll wake up in the recovery area where the medical team will watch your vital signs closely and help with any discomfort right away.

  • Hospital Stay

Depending on the complexity of the surgery and your initial recovery, the hospital stay can last from one day to several days. This period allows the medical team to manage pain, monitor healing, and ensure you’re ready to continue recovery at home.

  • Initial Care

Immediate care focuses on pain management, reducing swelling, and preventing infection. You’ll receive instructions on caring for your surgical sites, which may include prescribed medications and ice packs to manage swelling.

Recovery at Home: Timelines, Diet Modifications, and Activity Restrictions

  • Recovery Timelines

The full recovery process can vary, with significant improvements seen within the first few weeks and continued healing over several months. Adhering to your surgeon’s and orthodontist’s guidelines is key.

  • Diet Modifications

Initially, you’ll need to follow a liquid or soft food diet to avoid putting pressure on your jaw. Gradually, as healing progresses, you’ll be able to reintroduce more solid foods based on your comfort and doctor’s advice.

  • Activity Restrictions

Rest is essential in the early stages of home recovery. You’ll be advised to limit physical activity to prevent swelling and aid in the healing process. Detailed guidelines will be provided on when you can return to daily activities, work, or school.

Long-Term Care and Follow-Up Visits

  • Monitoring Progress

Regular follow-up visits with your orthodontist and surgeon are crucial for monitoring your healing, adjusting any orthodontic treatment, and ensuring the alignment of your jaw remains as planned.

  • Orthodontic Adjustments

Post-surgery, you may need further orthodontic treatment to refine your bite and alignment. This phase is tailored to your specific needs and is part of achieving the best final result.

  • Ongoing Care

Maintaining good oral hygiene and attending all recommended follow-up appointments are vital for your long-term results. This ensures any issues are addressed promptly and your health and aesthetic goals are achieved.

Dr. Alfred Cheng: A Trusted Orthodontist in Singapore

Let’s dive into why Dr. Alfred Cheng is the top pick for anyone considering a major smile makeover.

At the heart of his clinic, Dr. Cheng is about giving people the smiles they dream about. He’s got a collection of degrees and certificates, but what sets him apart is his genuine care for his patients. 

Whether it’s braces in every colour of the rainbow, invisible braces for those stealth corrections, or guiding kids’ growth so they won’t need surgery later on, Dr. Cheng does it all. And for the adults? He’s the go-to guy for jaw surgery that can change lives.

Why Everyone Loves Dr. Cheng

  • Happy Patients

Scroll through reviews or chat with past patients, and you’ll hear how Dr. Cheng’s blend of professionalism and kindness turned their orthodontic journey into a breeze.

  • Before and After Magic

Just take a look at his before-and-after shots. Dr. Cheng’s work speaks for itself, showing off some pretty impressive smile transformations.

  • Customised Care

He gets it—everyone’s different. Dr. Cheng sits down with you, listens to your concerns, and crafts a plan tailored just for you, aiming not just for a great smile but a healthier you.

Dr. Cheng’s Magic Touch

  • Before Surgery

Planning jaw surgery is like solving a complex puzzle; Dr. Cheng is a master at it. He works closely with surgeons to map out exactly what needs to be done, ensuring you’re fully prepped, and your surgery goals align with what’s possible.

  • After Surgery

The journey doesn’t end with surgery. Dr. Cheng is there for the long haul, fine-tuning your smile as you heal and ensuring everything settles right.

In Singapore’s orthodontics world, Dr. Alfred Cheng isn’t just a safe pair of hands—he’s a guiding light for anyone looking to embark on a journey to a better smile.


We’ve journeyed through the ins and outs of jaw surgery, from the initial decision-making process to the recovery and beyond. It’s clear that this path, while challenging, can lead to life-changing results, not just for your smile but for your overall health and confidence. 

Remember, the key to a successful outcome lies in the hands of a skilled orthodontist whose expertise can guide you through each step of the process.

Following your orthodontist’s advice is paramount. Their experience and knowledge are your best resources for a smooth recovery and the fantastic results you hope for. Every instruction, from pre-surgery prep to post-surgery care, is given to ensure you get the best out of this transformative journey.

Ready to transform your smile? Schedule your consultation with Dr. Alfred Cheng today. Discover your jaw surgery options and take the first step towards a healthier, more confident you. Contact us now to get started.

Call Us
Whatsapp Us
Contact Us