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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
There are a few steps you will go through before your surgery:
Aligning your teeth
Prior to the operation, an orthodontist will place braces on your child’s teeth. The orthodontist will move the teeth into the correct position during monthly adjustments. The surgeon will use the braces during the operation. Then, the braces will remain in place after the operation for a few months, depending on your child’s teeth and the type of operation.
Checking your progress
Throughout the orthodontic treatment, progress records of your child’s jaw and teeth will be reviewed. Once operation is scheduled, your child’s surgeon will discuss the type of operation and expected outcomes with you.
What happens during orthognathic surgery?
Your child will be under general anesthesia. Depending on the type of operation and condition, the procedure can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.
There are different types of orthognathic procedures. The three most common ones are:
Bilateral sagittal split osteotomy (lower jaw surgery)
Lefort osteotomy (upper jaw surgery)
Genioplasty (chin surgery)
Will my jaw be wired shut?
It is unlikely that your jaw will be wired together. Once the jaw is placed in its new position, it is secured with small metal plates and screws. In addition, elastic rubber bands are used to guide your new bite.
What should I expect after surgery?
Your child may initially feel anxious after surgery because of a sore throat, clogged nose, lip numbness, and difficulty eating. It is important to help your child remain relaxed by helping him or her breathe slowly and deeply. Remember that the first week is the most difficult.
Pain and bleeding
Swelling and bruising
How long will recovery take?
Initial healing of the jaws takes around six weeks, while complete healing of the jaws takes up to a year.
What does the follow-up appointment involve?
You will meet with your surgeon weekly during the first month. After about six weeks, your child will return to the orthodontist to begin finalizing his bite. Post-surgical orthodontic treatment can last up to one year. It is essential that your child follow the orthodontist’s instructions to get the best results.
What makes Boston Children's approach unique?
The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program at Boston Children’s Hospital offers comprehensive evaluation and correction of the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). Our highly experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeons are known locally and nationally.
We understand that you may be worried about your child’s operation. There are many resources to support your whole family—within Boston Children’s, in the outside community and online.
Boston Children’s resources for families:
On our For Patients and Families site, you can read all you need to know about:
Please note that neither Boston Children’s nor the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program unreservedly endorses all of the information found at the site listed below. This link is simply provided as another resource.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”