When a person has an upper (maxilla) or lower (mandible) jaw that is too big, small, forward or back - most often the only solution is to perform surgery that corrects these skeletal defects. This type surgery is termed orthognathic ("ortho" means straight and "gnathos" means jaw).
Do not confuse orthognathic surgery with orthodontic therapy (braces). Although these surgical cases do require some standard orthodontics to set the stage for the surgical phase of treatment, the braces themselves could not possibly fix the jaw relationship problem by itself. When planning an orthognathic surgical case, the general dentist, orthodontist and oral surgeon will work closely with one another to set the stage for optimum post surgical results in regards to both function and esthetics.
Some of the various conditions that can be corrected via orthognathic surgery are:
Overbite (retrognathic). This could be a result of overgrowth of the maxilla (upper jaw) or under growth of the mandible (lower jaw).
Underbite (prognathic). This could be a result of overgrowth of the mandible or undergrowth of the maxilla. Most often the treatment for this is surgical setback of the mandible.
Open bite (apertognathic). Most often is a result of excessive growth in the posterior maxilla.
Excess upper gums (vertical maxillary excess). Exhibited by excessive gums showing when a person smiles. Surgical intrusion (raising up) of the maxilla is the most common surgical solution.
Below is an example of corrective orthognathic surgery for a retrognathic mandible (lower jaw).
NOTE - This patient had a corrective chin procedure performed as well.