Orthognathic surgery is used to move the position of the teeth and jaws to create orofacial harmony for both aesthetics and function. The Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon is trained in both medicine and dentistry bridging the gap between specialist dental and surgical care. Surgery is used to allow the movement of the teeth further than what is possible with traditional braces.

During your initial Orthodontic consultation, your orthodontist will identify if surgery is required and request a consultation with an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. Most patients will begin treatment with braces for approximately 18-24 months prior to surgery. The length of time depends on the specific treatment objectives and the patient's age. Any tooth in an abnormal position will be straightened or moved into its ideal position by the orthodontist. Sometimes surgical assistance is required to achieve this, for example, if a canine tooth is impacted or located within the palate.

During this time, it is normal for the aberrant position of the jaw to appear to worsen. This is by design.

Whats steps are involved?

Once the patient has completed the orthodontic treatment (braces) and has completed growing, surgery can proceed to align the jaws to their ideal skeletal relation. Surgery will involve one or both jaws and sometimes the chin to optimize orofacial harmony.


Recovery from surgery usually requires a short admission from 1-3 nights. The most challenging component for the patient is being on a pureed diet for 6 weeks after the operation. After surgery, the patient continues to visit the orthodontist for approximately 12 months to complete tooth movement.

Southern Cross Health Insurance AffiliateNew Zealand Medical CouncilAustralian and New Zealand Association of Oral & Maxillofacial SurgeonsRoyal Australasian College of Dental SurgeonsAHPRACanterbury District Health Board