Reasons to Get Jaw Surgery

Countless people have asked me why I decided to undergo double jaw surgery (commonly referred to as getting the **** kicked out of your face).

I made my decision for the following reasons:

  1. I had a desire to chew with all of my teeth, as opposed to only using my very back molars
  2. I was tired of my slight lisp
  3. I wasn’t a fan of spitting every time I said anything
  4. I didn’t enjoy always having my mouth hanging open
  5. I was keen on breathing through my nose
  6. I didn’t like the look of my side profile
  7. I want to avoid future complications

1. Chewing

An underbite generally goes hand-in-hand with a crossbite. Since your teeth fail to line up naturally, you end up being only able to chew with your back molars (the big ones). It makes eating a lot more work.

2. Lisp

Underbites cause lisps in a person’s speaking. It has something to do with how your tongue sits in your mouth.

3. Spitting

When you have a underbite, your lower jaw is heavier, thus hanging open most of the time. Saliva then pools in that part of your mouth, so when you attempt to say something, spittle is flung into the air along with your words.

4. Mouth Hanging Open

Once again, since the lower jaw is elongated and heavier, it hangs open unless you make a conscious effort to keep your mouth closed.

5. Mouth Breathing

Since your jaw is always hanging open, you end up breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, thus missing most of the scent in your life.

It’s sad that someone actually made money with this…

6. Side Profile

Personal appearance affects a person’s confidence in a very real way. When you’re not comfortable with your side profile, you end up smiling less, you try to avoid pictures where you’re not looking straight at the camera, and so on. There’s no shame in wanting to feel good about yourself.

7. Future Complications

People with unaligned jaws are prone to shaving their teeth down and developing hindering cross bites later on in life. While you can never be sure if those things will happen to you specifically, 90 days of recovery is a small price to pay to prevent years of nuisance down the road.

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37 Comments

  1. Hi guys I had bottom jaw moved forward top jaw moved up both jaws moved across and genioplastly in 2002 when I was 18 with braces it’s all relapsed my surgeon said its very rare for this to happen therefore advises against having it done again as it will probably relapse again and I can’t keep doing this every ten years that op changed my life and was the best thing u ever did I’m do miserable now and angry that it’s relapsed back to hating my face feeling like my mouths constantly open can’t breathe through my mouth eating with my mouth shut is an effort anyone been through this relapse and what happened? Sarah x

    • Sarah, while relapses are rare, they do happen. I had laser eye surgery in 2007 and my eyes relapsed within the year. As a result, I’ve been wearing glasses every since and my optometrist advised against a followup surgery for the same reasons your oral surgeon stated. Some people’s bodies are just stubborn when it comes to certain things and it’s something we must learn to live with. It’s certainly frustrating when relapses occur, especially considering you’ve already spent the money, endured the recovery, and tasted the good life on the other side for a short time, but I’m not sure if there’s anything you can do. If your body wants to reject certain operations, it will simply do so. I share in your frustration (except with regard to sight instead of bite).

  2. Hi graham,
    i am from india and i have tis jaw problem and my jaw makes noise!(like a click)and i have underbite(protruding lower jaw)
    i am happy with my appearance except for the noise and pain i have when i yawn
    and please say should i opt the surgery.will i be benifited and my doctor says my surgery is within one week very frightened and my parents too
    pls give a good sugestion
    wil i get a better appearance ?please help me in sorting this out

    • Veena, if yawning and opening your mouth wide is causing you pain, this could be a sign of something that will only cause you more trouble as you get older. It’s probably smart to solve the issue now. The surgery should not change your appearance that much, so I wouldn’t worry about that. If your surgeon has recommended the operation, that generally means they think it will prevent future complications. Good luck and let me know how it goes. =)

  3. I think when people look at others with misaligned jaws or other facial skeletal defects, they sorta know something’s off but their brain ignores it. That’s why they’ll look at you and think there’s nothing wrong and question why you’d want to go through with this. It’s ironic because after you have it done and show those same people the before and after photos is when they can finally see the difference and point it out too.

    I have a slight overjet that makes me hate my side profile and it becomes so apparent in pictures and I get tired of perfectly faced people asking me why I wanna have this done. After a while I shortened my long winded explanation to a short and subtle “for medical reasons” so they’d stfu already lol

    I’m glad I found your blog it makes me feel less alone.

    • Idelise, I can totally understand what you’re saying. It’s fun to explain to the first few people who ask, but after a while, it’s easiest to offer answers that refer to “breathing and chewing properly.” People seem okay with that reason. =)

  4. HI Graham,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am going for double jaw surgery in a couple of months. I’m trying not to freak myself out by reading too much but need to prepare in the same breath. I’m excited to have the surgery so I can finally breath better and have no more jaw/face pain. I’m wondering if you could share a little more about your first week. I’m a single Mom and just trying to line up all the xtra help I will need to take care of my Daughter during the first part of the recovery. Thanking you in advance.

    • Amy, props to you for having the courage to take on this surgery while raising a daughter. You’ll likely be in the hospital for the first 2–3 days as the surgeon monitors your recovery, so you’ll need to arrange for someone to take care of her during that time. Following that, you will be somewhat lacking in energy for about 2 weeks, but you’ll still be able to care for your daughter. The most difficult thing will be your inability to speak during the first couple of weeks. If your daughter is old enough to understand, you can use a whiteboard or hand gestures to communicate, but if she’s quite young, you may want a friend to help you out during at least the first week. I hope this is helpful! =)

  5. Hey Graham,

    I’m very glad to have found your website.
    I have a relatively severe underbite (6mm) and after 20 years of contemplating I took my first step today in walking down the same path you had taken – I saw an orthodontist this morning.

    I knew of the cost beforehand from all the research but hearing the actual quote from the doc is still discouraging a bit … $10K! Haven’t seen the surgeon yet but the estimated cost for the surgery will be another $10K!

    I live in Calgary so I should be able to relate to a lot of your experience. You mentioned that Alberta Health Care took care of part of your bill. Could you be more specific about that? %? Did you have any dental insurance at that time, if so, did you try claiming part of the expense?

    Thank you in advance for your feedback! I’m gonna read through your comment replies (there are so many!)

    • Hello from Calgary, Ambrose!

      My surgery costs were as follows:

      • Wisdom teeth removal: $1600 ($400/tooth)
      • Actual surgery/hospital stay: $5000

      Alberta Health Care covered all of the remaining surgery/hospital costs (roughly $30K). I have no special insurance plans and have never had dental insurance. I also didn’t make any claims on my own behalf—everything was handled automatically because my surgery was considered “medically necessary.”

      I believe if you’re able to prove the surgery is medical in nature, the province will cover most of it. Your surgery is medical if it will improve your life presently or prevent future complications. If your surgery is purely cosmetic, the entire cost will be on you, unfortunately.

      If you have more questions about this, feel free to email me personally and we can chat about it. =)

  6. Well my 2nd jaw surgery is scheduled on April 3rd. Another double jaw surgery to widen my upper jaw and level my lower jaw. I’m not excited about this as it has been 8 months since the 1st surgery and most of the feeling is back except my lower lip is still very tingly. I will have a splint on my upper teeth and the surgeon is going to wire my jaws shut for 4-6 weeks. I’m not sure if knowing what to expect, having been through this before, is a good thing or bad! I am so ready for this to be over and getting these braces off my teeth!

    • Terry, it’s unfortunate that you must join the ranks of those who require a follow-up operation. I wish you all the best in a few months and am honestly looking forward to seeing a photo of you post-braces! (You certainly deserve the opportunity to take said photo, sheesh!)

  7. Hey there!
    I was starting to have second thoughts about going for my jaw surgery to fix my open bite a few days back and then i found your blog! Your blog has been real helpful in giving me the confidence i need to go through w my surgery!

  8. Started reading your blog. Good stuff man. I’m pretty much just starting out with everything getting prepared for my double jaw. Have the underbite/crossbite whole deal. All of those reasons listed led to me getting it taken care of. I just got a set of braces put on a month or so ago. Planning on having the surgery in the Fall. Currently working on getting in shape and getting mentally/physically prepared to just be drained.

  9. Hi there!

    I had my double jaw surgery about 11 months ago and just recently discovered your blog! Goodness, I wish I had read this a year ago! My surgery was almost exactly the same as yours. Anyway, I’m doing a speech and making a brief documentary on my surgery. Hope you don’t mind me quoting you to my classmates! So inspirational, relate-able and funny! Thank you for this blog!!

  10. Hi Graham,

    Thanks for your blog it has helped me so much since I had double jaw surgery a year ago.

    I’ve had problems with nasal congestion and post nasal drip from around 3 months after I had the surgery. This has been going on for around 6 months now, there has also recently been specks of blood in my phlegm. Ive been to the doctors and they think it’s connected to my sinuses, have you heard of anyone having similar problems as it seems coincidental that a few months after surgery I suddenly have all these problems?

    Thanks again for the blog, it’s so reassuring for those recovering after the op!
    Many thanks
    Emma

    • Emma, I met one other lady who was having issues with her nose several months after surgery. She had to go in for a followup surgery (at no cost) to clean up the scar tissue around her septum. If your doctors can take an x-ray and verify that the problem is a direct result of the surgery, your surgeon should fix it for free. Beyond that, I can’t really provide any advice because I didn’t have to deal with this myself. Just know that it’s fixable! =)

  11. Hi Graham. It has been awhile since I posted but it will be 5 months this week since my double jaw surgery. I am a few weeks behind on recovery because of having to have four screws and a plate on my lower left side removed due to an infection. I can open my mouth about two fingers wide now. My lower lip is driving me crazy with the tingling and I have tingling now across my entire chin. I know this is a good thing but it’s so annoying. I fell on my face hard (concrete driveway) the first week if August. Luckily my jaw was ok but I think I did some damage to my nose. When I eat my nose gets stuffed up and sometimes when I sniff in it feels like there is air going through a hole inside my nose. I’m not sure if this is from the fall or surgery.
    Anyway I went to see my surgeon last week and he and the orthodontist are leaning towards another surgery to rebrake my upper jaw to widen it. The orthodontist doesn’t think it can be done just with the braces and the surgeon was going to do a corticotomy but he doesn’t think there is enough space between my teeth without compromising them and it would take too long for the orthodontist to make space. The orthodontist wanted the second surgery to be done ASAP but the surgeon wants to wait until nine months post op so that will take us to Feb. the surgeon said it would not cost me anymore money, thank God cause if that was the case I wouldn’t be doing it. I will only have about two weeks of sick time built back up and from previous experience I don’t think that is long enough so I may have to tack on some vacation. Anyway, sorry about the long post. Have you heard of anyone having to have a second surgery? I will know more for sure when I see the surgeon again the first week of Nov after he meets with the orthodontist.

    • Terry, I’ve encountered a number of people who had to undergo a second surgery, so this is not completely out of the ordinary. Generally, the second surgery serves to either widen the upper palette (like you’re considering) or remove scar tissue in and around the septum (for people who are having difficulty breathing after a full recovery). While having a second surgery is incredibly frustrating, I would still recommend getting this fixed once and for all. It’s nice that your surgeon will perform the follow-up operation at no cost. If you’re healthy and have a positive gut feeling, I’d go for it at your surgeon’s discretion. =)

  12. Hey Man
    This website is awesome and I appreciate all the time you put into making it. Basically my jaw looks similar to how yours looked in the pics, and two dentists recommend I get this surgery. i’m 23yo and I wanted to know…
    1. whats the absolute minimum number of days I have to miss work. (I, a software engineer so I sit in front of a computer all day)
    2. How much better do you look (both profile and front) this long after the surgery ? did it throw any thing else on your face out of wack (Less/more defined jaw line/chin/nose..)?
    3. When is the earliest I cant start going to the gym?
    4. any insight as to if it would fix the fact that the left side of teeth do not touch?
    thanks so much for this, really appreciate everything you did

    • Hi Ben,

      1. Being a software engineer myself, I can attest that you’ll need between 2–3 weeks off of work. I returned to work after 2 weeks, but didn’t have the mental stamina to work the entire day until the end of that week.

      2. I look more or less the same a few years later as I did a few months after surgery (except I have no swelling, obviously). So the photos you see in this post are still accurate.

      3. You can likely return to the gym after 5–6 weeks (or once you feel strong enough).

      4. You’ll have to ask your surgeon this one since I don’t know how your jaw is aligned. My molars all touched before the surgery, so I’m not too sure.

      Hope this helps, good sir! =)

  13. Hi Graham:
    I need the same surgery that the poster above Dee got for sleep apnea. She posted on June 28, 2011. I post her post below. Do you have some recommendations for getting this surgery done outside of North America? I live in the United States. I have Medicare. My pulmonary specialist in Los Angeles did not tell me that Medicare would only cover the surgery if I made a good faith effort at CPAP titration, but failed. My copay would then be around eight to ten thousand dollars for surgery. Now I would have to pay at least forty to fifty thousand dollars completely out of pocket. I am on Social Security Disability. I can’t afford that. By the way, my pulmonary specialist is at UCLA in the Ronald Reagan health center. I would urge people on your blog not to get sleep apnea studies or treatment at UCLA. I understand that Dr. Ho Kok Sen in Singapore does not do jaw surgery for sleep apnea. Does anybody have any excellent resources abroad for other Social Security Disability patients in the USA who have had experiences similar to mine? Here is Dee’s post. She does not say where she got surgery: Dee June 28, 2011 at 8:56 am #
    “Here’s another reason for getting jaw surgery — sleep apnea. It likely killed my father at 63, and may have contributed to my sister’s death at the same age. I was diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea in 2007. Which means I woke up 45-50 times/hour during the night and stopped breathing for as long as 30 seconds. While the current remedy, a CPAP machine, forces you to breathe and can make a huge difference, it’s no fun to use, and many people give up. Which is why I’m having jaw surgery tomorrow, to move both jaws forward and open up my airway. There’s no guarantee it will work, but I’ve seen the X-rays and my airway will be twice as wide or more. Most of the people who’ve commented here seem to be young, and I’d like to think that by having this surgery done, they’re avoiding the whole sleep apnea thing later on.
    Great website, Graham. I’ll be consulting it as I recover”

    • Sally, I unfortunately have no experience with having this surgery performed outside of North America. Would you like me to put you in touch with Dee?

  14. Thanks Graham! I’m sure I’ll surprise a few people we only see a couple times a year at family gatherings! Can’t wait to see their reactions to the new me at our Christmas dinners!

  15. Hi Graham,
    Great blog! I’ve enjoyed reading it and am taking in as much info as I can. I will be having my double jaw surgery in September just days after my 40th bday. I was going to have this surgery 14 years ago, but found out we were expecting just before I had my braces on. So, now that we are all done having babies and they are old enough that I can so this, the time is here. I am very excited as, for me, although it will take care of my overbite, my teeth meeting and my mouth breathing, my biggest thrill is to cure my gummy smile. It is something I have been terribly self conscious of all my life. Others don’t realize how hard it is to smile ‘small’ or to always show a fake smile so I don’t look so gummy. I have all the confidence in my surgeon, but worry sometimes about all that surgery entails mainly because I have children. I am staying positive that all goes well and it feels like I’m waiting for Christmas!
    Thanks for sharing your experience…..it will make a difference in mine and I’m grateful to you for that! 🙂
    Jenna

    • Jenna, I’m happy to hear you’re finally in a place where you can check this off your list again! Stay positive and you’ll be smiling proud by Christmas time!

  16. Missy, I will be having double jaw surgery in two weeks and like yourself I am now in my 40’s and also should have had this done many years ago. Graham’s blog has been a God send! Everything my surgeon told me at my last appointment I had already read about and prepared myself. The surgeon said ” I’m not going to sugarcoat this as you will be miserable for the first week and hate me, but it will get easier into the second and third week”, which pretty much follows what Graham has said. I am not worried or nervous…yet! I’m sure the night before my surgery I will be feeling different. Just excited to get this over with and I will be a happy camper when the braces come off and have a nice smile and a jaw that works! Good luck with your journey!

  17. Graham,

    I can’t thank you enough for this blog. I am in my 40’s now, and have been told since High School to get this done by my dentists. Well I didn’t believe that my underbite would cause problems later, so I just went about my life. And here I am, all sorts of pain, breathing problems, etc. etc. So, I shall now embark on the journey, and am actually looking forward to it now. Thank you for the blow by blow detail, I feel prepared. I will be getting my braces on in the next month so I’m still a year out, but I’m finally doing it. Thank you!

    • Missy, I think you’re incredibly strong for tackling this surgery at this point. You’re still young, so your body will have no problem healing. I appreciate your testimony supporting doing this while you’re young. A lot of people ask me if it’s worthwhile, but since I’m still in my twenties, I cannot speak to that. It’s nice to meet someone like yourself who can attest that it is. =)

  18. Hi Graham,
    I just came across your blog and absolutely loved it. I have a class 3 underbite and an underdeveloped upper jaw. So i will be having 2 surgeries in 6 months. I already have braces now. I just hope i am happy with the results and achieve a perfect side profile. Thanks a ton for uploading your journey. helped a lot! 🙂

  19. Thanks for the blog Graham, it’s really useful. I’m having surgery 2 days after you Daniel. Are you in the UK?

  20. I am having jaw surgery in 4 weeks 15th of April 2013 cant wait i should finally be able to eat a piece of steak proper without finding it difficult to chew am glad they have this site gives you all the information you need good luck to everyone else that’s having jaw surgery

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