Common Questions

Following is a list of the most common questions I’ve received about double jaw surgery. If your question is not answered below, feel free to ask about it in the comments and I’d be happy to respond there.

Before the surgery:

After the surgery:

Cries for help:


Why should I get jaw surgery?

There are several reasons to undergo jaw surgery:

  • To be able to chew with all your teeth
  • To speak without a lisp
  • To speak without spitting
  • To stop your mouth from hanging open
  • To stop breathing through your mouth and start breathing through your nose
  • To change your appearance (side profile)

These reasons are all explained on the Reasons to Get Jaw Surgery page.

Is jaw surgery painful?

Jaw surgery is usually not painful. This may be difficult to believe, but since your nerves become bruised and numb during the surgery, you don’t actually feel any of the pain. By the time feeling returns to your face, most of the pain is gone.

Granted, you’ll experience a bit of pain when you yawn, sneeze and cough. It’ll also hurt when your jaw spasms (and it will spasm for the first month), but for the most part, you should not experience much pain at all.

How long does it take to recover from jaw surgery?

It will take 90 days (3 months) for a full recovery after jaw surgery. Most of your feeling and energy will be back after 2 months, but it takes a full 90 days for your bone to fuse back together. A full range of motion in your jaw will return depending on how much you’re moving it around, so make sure you follow the exercises your surgeon gives you.

How much does jaw surgery cost?

Jaw surgery costs roughly $5000 in Canada, but that price may differ significantly in other provinces and countries. If your surgery is deemed cosmetic (instead of “medically necessary”), the cost will be higher because you’ll be required to cover the hospital bills. Sadly, patients in the US have seen jaw surgery bills in excess of $50,000.

What should I buy to prepare for recovery?

You can find a full list of items that with help you through the recovery at the Must-Have Recovery Products page.


Will I look different after jaw surgery?

You will notice subtle changes in your appearance following jaw surgery. Your overbite/underbite will no longer be present and your cheeks, nose, and chin may take on a different shape as well. My cheeks filled out a lot as a result of my surgery.

How much weight will I lose after jaw surgery?

Most people lose between 5–10 pounds during the first month of their recovery. The general rule of thumb is that you will lose weight until you reach your natural body weight.

Will I experience numbness after jaw surgery?

Yes, you will experience extreme numbness following jaw surgery. During the operation, several nerves in your face and chin have to be moved around. When you move a nerve, it becomes bruised, and when a nerve is bruised, it stops providing sensations, thus giving you that numb feeling (more on this in my Day 20 post).

Will I get all of my feeling back after jaw surgery?

70% of patients regain full feeling, while 30% may experience slightly numb areas in their cheeks, chin and lower lip for the rest of their lives. The feeling you have after 6 months post-op is likely what you’ll live with for the rest of your life.

What can I eat after jaw surgery?

You’ll be on a strict liquid diet following jaw surgery. Buy lots of Boost, Ensure or Carnation supplements and learn to make smoothies, because these will be your staple foods for at least the first 2 weeks. I had to eat them for 8 weeks, but my surgery was a bit more invasive than most. You’ll probably have to administer your food through a syringe for the first week as well.

Once your surgeon gives you permission to start chewing again, you can begin to eat soft foods such as pasta and mashed potatoes. During the weeks following your re-entry into the realm of chewing, you’ll be able to eat whatever is comfortable. Don’t expect to tear into a steak as soon as you’re allowed to chew again, though.

If you have the following implements, you should survive perfectly fine:

  • A reliable blender (this is extremely important, as you’ll be blending almost everything)
  • Smoothie materials (ice cream, yogurt, milk, bananas, strawberries, granola, peanut butter, honey, etc.) — Recipe
  • Soup (you’ll have to blend everything except tomato soup)
  • Ensure, Boost or Carnation (I drank 3 of these per day during my liquid diet phase)
  • Prune juice (you’ll need the fiber in it)
  • Whole milk (you’ll need all the calcium you can get so your bones heal back just as strong as they were before)
  • Water (make sure you drink at least 1 L of water per day; drinking 2 L per day is a much better option)

The most important item on that list is water. If you don’t drink enough water each day, you’ll become dehydrated and sick, and your bowel movements won’t feel good because none of the fiber you’re eating will dissolve into your body.


Help, I’m experiencing pain!

If your pain is chronic (ie. consistent and throbbing), you may have an infection and should schedule a visit with your surgeon just to be safe.

On the other hand, if your pain comes in small bouts, it’s likely your nerves reawakening or your teeth being pulled by the elastics. In this case, just be patient and the pain will subside in due time. If you were prescribed pain medication, that may help as well.

Help, my breath is terrible!

At times, your breath may be indicative of the fact that you are not allowed to brush your teeth or floss during the first several weeks of recovery. To aid in freshening your breath, try gurgling with warm salt water a few times each day. Soon enough, you’ll be given the go-ahead to brush and floss again.

Help, my teeth are no longer touching!

An open bite is a common problem following jaw surgery. Fear not, however, because your teeth will naturally grow until they encounter opposition (in the form of your other jaw), so this problem will slowly correct itself over time.

Help, my jaw movement is not returning!

If you have been given the green light to resume eating regular food, but the movement in your jaw doesn’t seem to be returning, try whistling and chewing gum each day. Whistling will help to break up scar tissue, while chewing gum will stretch the muscles in your jaw.

Help, I don’t look like myself anymore!

This is perhaps the most common fear people have following jaw surgery. Remember that swelling takes a minimum of 3 months to go away, so try to avoid judging your appearance until that point.

Also, keep in mind that you are your own worst critic because you’ve been seeing your face in the mirror every single day for most of your life. While the subtle changes in your appearance seem drastic to you, most people will not even notice that your face changed shape.

Want to connect with other jaw heroes?

Recovering from jaw surgery can be lonely. That's why many of us hang out in a Facebook group where we support each other leading up to surgery and during recovery. There are hundreds of people from all over the world chatting right now and it's free to join.

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(example of a recent conversation)

1200 Comments

  1. Hi Graham!
    Wow. I have spent the better part of the past two days reading your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your story for those of us who are on the path towards jaw surgery.
    I’m 20 years old, and have battled with mouth problems for years and years.
    Like most of us here, I’m getting a double jaw surgery as well. Much like you, I have a horrible underbite that has resulted in a cross bite-which I’m sure you are familiar with…
    I have to get my wisdom teeth out before I get my braces, and then this summer I will be doing my surgery. It was so great to read your personal experiences. Again, thanks so much for answering the questions I have always been scared to ask my doctor.
    I am a little nervous, but your blog has really touched me and eased some of my nervousness…to the point now where I am more excited than nervous for the changes this surgery will leave me with.
    I can’t wait to read your blog while I’m on my recovery journey!
    Thanks Graham. Hope all is going well for you now.
    🙂
    Lily

  2. Hello.

    I’m a 14 year old girl living in Canada (hooray!) – Vancouver, to be specific, and I have a class-3 underbite and open bite. Recently, I’ve been having trouble opening my mouth too wide without feeling strain, and I’m feeling quite a bit of discomfort, but I’ve been told that I have to wait a couple more years to have the surgery (until I’m ‘fully grown’)… Ah…

    How severe should an underbite have to be before having no choice but to immediately resort to surgery, do you suppose?

    I’m sorry to be bothering you with questions, but do you think that it would be wise to have the surgery earlier? And do you know if it’s cheaper to have it somewhere else? Overall, the prices seem to be similar everywhere…

    On the other hand, though, I’m not scared about surgery at all. I just want it gone, if you understand what I’m saying.

    Thank you for your time. ^^

  3. So i got surgery ohh 2 months ago, i was minding my own business on the sidelines and blam a ball hits me in the face. Only thing that hurts is my tooth and gums nothing else oh and i got a nice fat lip, Should i wait it out and see if i am okay?

  4. Angela, I remember hearing about your daughter a few months ago!

    There is definitely great disparity between the information each patient receives prior to the operation. It would certainly be nice if a lot of us were informed more adequately than we were, wouldn’t you say?

    I hope she continues to recover and enjoys her new smile for many years!

  5. Hi Jonathan,

    I had my surgery performed in Edmonton, Alberta. My surgeon’s name is Dr. Lahl and I highly recommend him (though it sounds like he might be a little bit out of your way).

  6. Hello, I wrote to you a few months ago about my 13 year old daughter. She had an upper and lower jaw surgery on September 6. She did great. However there was a lot of stuff I wished I would have been told about before. I ask around a thousand questions, but still feel I did not have all the needed information.
    1. The surgery took 15 hours
    2. When she came out her head and face was wrap with goss.
    3. The most shocking part was that her mouth and nose kept bleeding for around ten hours.

    If you ask her is she happy with it she well say yes. As for the face change I was really stressed about did happen, people ask US if she had a nose job all the time. Still I very happy with it all. So thank you for your post.

  7. Hi Graham I was just wondering what the name of your orthodonist was and did you have your surgery in toronto, ontario.
    Thanks

  8. A page where people can post before and after photos is not a bad idea! I’ll look into it!

  9. Hi,

    I would not say tough, i would say lack of information from the hospital, i saw no one in regards to how to manage eatting, so i would say despite that it took about a week of eatting to get used to the new jaws (as we all know that the sensation you get knowing one of your jaws is shorter). Even my meal in the hospital consisted of cottage pie (word of advice do not try mash potato you will choke.)

    The procedure for this operation has come a long way, my father had the operation in the late 70’s and he was completely wired and had be be tightened every few days for a number of months. They did not use plates and screws back then and had food through straws.

    oh one other bit of advice ask your surgeon if you will require rhinoplasty (nose job) as i was offered it and should have had it, as i find it difficult to breath through my nose! could be something to do with the screw?

    Tips and advice on what people go through on this surgery is what can help people get through it, when i had my surgery there were no sites like this for advcie and experiences.

    Keep this site going for the many people who will have this operation every year.

    perhaps a photo page so people could post their photos.

    cheers again

    kieran

  10. Hi Kieran,

    It’s nice to hear about people’s recommendations for this operation even when they’re left with numb patches and other minor issues. What you said is true–one learns to manage these problems and realizes they’re trivial compared to the benefit of the surgery.

    I can’t believe you were at the pub eating dinner a few days after the operation! You must just be tougher than the rest of us!

  11. Hi everyone,

    I had this surgery 3.5 years ago becuase of a condition passed on from my father. I can see by reading some of your posts alot of you have had it hard. I have upper and lower jaws realigned and from after surgery i also had strong elastic bands for 6 weeks. Things were done differently in my hospital as i was up and walking, doing my own thing within 6 hrs of surgery. Also i was told that you had to have liquid diet for the first 3 weeks, nothing like this happened, on my 3rd day after release from hospital i was eatting a curry in my local pub (was very strange but still managed).

    My jaws were extremely bad if your wondering to the point i have a screw at the top of my nose, so this tells you how far i had it moved.

    The main issues i had was nose bleeds for the first 12 hours after the surgery, they settled but was annoying. I would recommend a hot shower as soon after surgery as possible, this helps clean you up and make your face and mouth feel fresh.

    best drinks i found was the lucazade sport in a squeezy bottle, that helped for energy and also easy to drink.

    To this this day 3 and a half years later i still have numbness on my face, lower chin and lips also my jaw still spasms and i get aches. I have learned to manage these problems.

    i would say the surgery was well worth it, i had braces from the age of 10 to the age of 22 after my surgery (in that time i had them swapped for clear bracket braces as i was getting older).

    I have photos on my facebook page where you can see a before and after and post op photos if anyone wishes to see my page i will happily post it too you.

    all i can recommend is take it easy, drink plenty of fluids, keep you mouth clean as possible. swelling goes down after about 3 weeks but you do get there.

    I can answer any questions in regards to this procedure in britain and on the NHS as this is where i had it done.

  12. You’re alive! That’s great to hear!

    It’s funny how much we think about food during the initial part of this recovery, isn’t it? I guess that goes to show how much we take food for granted in this part of the world.

    I wasn’t able to eat solid food until about 8 weeks in, but that’s the slowest I’ve heard of to date. You’ll probably be on a liquid diet for at least 4 – 6 weeks, though. You’ve got to learn to enjoy soup!

  13. Well…. I lived. I’m on Day 11! I had these massive headaches the first week, Day 6 was the worst, I felt like I was going to die. No pain in the jaw though, interestingly. My face is past the super swollen phase, now I just look fat. When were you able to eat normal food again? I spent a good portion of my day thinking about what my first meal is going to be when I can eat real food!!

  14. Oooh, extra toothbrushes… What a deal! I have a few friends who are dental hygienists so I know how obsessive you are about oral cleanliness. =)

    The lack of a splint will mean you’ll be able to keep your mouth a lot more fresh than I could because there won’t be nearly as much inaccessible saliva buildup.

    Good luck next week!

  15. Hi Graham!
    Thanks for your reply! I have one more week and I am getting SO nervous! I have heard of him, I know he is good. My surgeon is Dr. Lung from Kingsway Oral surgery. He told me last week that I won’t have a splint in after the surgery, do you think that would make a big difference in post-surgical oral-cleanliness? I am a dental hygienist so I am a bit obsessive about clean teeth, braces have been driving me crazy!
    Honestly though, I just want to reiterate what a wonderful blog you have, GREAT job, if your teeth ever come through my dental chair I promise I will be extra nice and give you extra toothbrushes, haha!

  16. Hi Justin,

    Your upper lip looks large is definitely due to swelling. Even though you feel like most of your swelling is already gone, it will actually stick around for at least another couple of months.

    Your cheek bones are likely a result of swelling as well, but keep in mind that your face will be a different shape than it was before. It will take you a few months to get used to it, but you do look good, as your girlfriend is reminding you. Remember, you are your own worst critic.

    Don’t judge your appearance until at least 3 months have passed and all of the swelling has left. I promise you’ll adjust and come to appreciate your results!

  17. Hi Graham,
    I am 20 years old & am on day 10 of my jaw surgery. They moved my upper jaw forward to fix my bite (under-bite) I’m actually in no pain except for at night my jaw cracks it really hurts. I knew I would experience swelling but a lot of it has gone down & I’m sad with the way I look now. My upper lip looks abnormaly large & I’m hoping this is from the swelling. Also my cheeck bones seem to stick out further. Is this normal or could I be swelling in my cheeks also? I touch them & it’s hard as a rock I don’t feel much flamation so I don’t think it’s swelling. My girlfriend of 3 years says im still handsome but I feel differently right now. Please answer at least the question about my lip.

    Thank you so much!!!

  18. Hey, Do you think upper or lower jaw surgery calls for more time off? I know this is a double jaw surgery site, but I would like to take 3 weeks off of work for lower jaw surgery. Im a Customer Service Rep, and talking to customers and friends is a big part, but i plan to be back at college after the first week or so.

  19. Nice to meet you, Joey! I’m glad you’re telling your own story as well. Not only does it help people, but it also gives you something to keep busy with during those initial weeks.

    Cheers to a quick recovery!

  20. Hi Graham,

    I just wanted to send a thank you message for having such a detailed blog. I have found it so helpful to read about your recovery experience.

    I had double jaw surgery on 12/28/2011, but for an open and cross bite. It was similar enough to your surgery that your posts are very informative. Your blog inspired me to start a blog of my own to share what I’ve learned and about my recovery. I put a link up to your blog on my first post…hope that is okay. Let me know if you want it taken down.

    Best,
    Joey

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“Over the past several years, I’ve done my best to respond to every comment on this blog, but unfortunately I no longer have the time to do so. If you have questions about jaw surgery and want to connect with others on this journey, please join the Facebook group. Don't worry — it's free!”

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