Problems with the jaw can result in difficulty speaking, eating, swallowing, breathing and sleeping. Some people may have a facial disfigurement, such as a severely receding chin or protruding jaw or an unbalanced appearance from the front or side. In some cases, jaw problems can be the source of other health problems, such as debilitating headaches or sleep apnea. A severe overbite or underbite may make it impossible to close the teeth or lips together.
Cleft Palate and Jaw Surgery in Children | FAQ
Jordan Steinberg, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, discusses cleft palate and jaw surgeries in children and adolescents. Find out which treatment options are best for these conditions and what to expect when your child needs cleft palate or jaw surgery.
Why choose Johns Hopkins?
At Johns Hopkins, several of our reconstructive surgeons, pediatric surgeons among them, specialize in facial reconstruction, including jaw surgery. Over years of practice, they have built a reputation as being among the best facial reconstruction surgeons in the country. Our surgeons have learned about and, in many cases, taught the latest and most effective surgical techniques. In addition, because they work at Johns Hopkins, they can call on any other kind of medical expertise needed right at the facility, from orthopedists and ear, nose, and throat specialists (otolaryngologists) to neurologists and pediatricians.
Our surgeons are devoted to their profession and to providing attentive patient care. From the first consultation to the final check-up, our reconstructive surgeons make themselves available and accessible to patients and their families.
Jaw Surgery Treatment Options
A reconstructive surgeon can correct jaw conditions and injuries through corrective surgical techniques including:
- Osteotomy: a procedure involving cutting the jawbone and repositioning it using titanium screws and plates. This eliminates the need for wiring the teeth together.
- Distraction osteogenesis: a procedure where the surgeon splits the jawbone and slowly moves it by inserting a screw either inside the mouth or outside, and turning it periodically over a few weeks. The advantage of the distraction technique is that it simultaneously increases bone length and the volume of the soft tissue around the bones.
- Bone grafts: your surgeon may extract bone from your ribs, hips or skull , to create a new jawbone structure. A new jawbone can also be crafted using an alloplastic graft, a bone substitute created from synthetic materials. Reconstructive jaw surgery is major surgery that will require general anesthesia and a hospital stay of a few days as well as recovery time at home afterward.
Corrective jaw surgery may be required for children for a number of conditions. For infants with Pierre Robin Sequence, a type of jaw surgery known as mandibular distraction may be required to alleviate airway obstruction and prevent the need for a tracheostomy. For children with cleft lip and palate, corrective (orthognathic) jaw surgery may be needed to correct an underbite that develops as a result of reduced growth of the upper jaw.
In adult patients with overbite, underbite or crossbite, orthognathic surgery may be required when the teeth cannot be realigned with orthodontic care alone. Finally, jaw surgery for some adults may be required for severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Our Team of Jaw Surgery Specialists
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Director, Neuroplastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Co-Director, Multidisciplinary Adult Cranioplasty Center (MACC)
Fellowship Director, Neuroplastic and Reconstructive Surgery, (plastic surgery)
Program Director, Plastic Surgery Residency Program, Department of Surgery
Professor of Pediatrics
Co-Director, Brachial Plexus Clinic, Kennedy Krieger Institute
Director, Cleft Lip and Palate Center
Director, Facial Paralysis and Pain Center
Director, Pediatric Plastic Surgery
Clinical Director, Genitourinary Transplant Program
Director, Oncological Reconstruction