After Orthognathic Surgery

Oral Hygiene

Avoid disturbing the wounds for the first 24 hours following surgery. Do not rinse your mouth, brush your teeth, or use mouthwash. Avoid probing the wounds and using a water flosser during the healing period to minimize trauma to the incisions. If you smoke, please refrain from smoking for a minimum of one week. You may resume brushing and rinsing 24 hours following surgery. Use a soft angled toothbrush to clean your teeth after each meal and prior to bedtime. Brush gently, taking care not to disturb the wounds. Occasional bleeding and discomfort during or following tooth brushing is common.


Swelling is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair. To help minimize swelling, apply an ice pack to the face for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, alternating back and forth throughout the first 24 hours. Swelling usually peaks two days following surgery and may be noticeable for two weeks. Elevating your head with an extra pillow while sleeping, helps to considerably reduce swelling. In addition, if you are prescribed medications to reduce swelling, please take them as directed.


Upon discharge from the hospital you will be given prescriptions for pain medication. Please take the medications as directed. Orthognathic surgery does not usually produce severe post-operative pain. If pain persists, please contact our office.


A slight amount of oozing or bleeding is likely for 24 hours or more after surgery. Bleeding from the nose is very common with upper jaw surgery. Occasionally, bleeding may continue for up to three weeks following surgery. Blowing your nose is discouraged to minimize bleeding and reduce the risk of subcutaneous emphysema (blowing air under the skin and around the eyes). If excessive bleeding occurs, please contact our office.


Congestion of the nose and sinus is very common following surgery of the upper jaw. Use of a room humidifier may provide some relief. Your doctor may also prescribe nasal sprays and decongestants. Please use as directed as these medications are helpful in maintaining open nasal passages and sinuses.


It is common to experience nausea after jaw surgery. Medications, anesthetics, diet changes and swallowed blood can easily upset your stomach. Eating a small bland meal or drinking a clear carbonated beverage before taking pain medications, may help alleviate your discomfort. Please call our office if repeated vomiting is a concern.


Facial discoloration often follows jaw surgery and may persist for several weeks. This is normal and should not cause alarm, however, discoloration should lessen over time.


Maintaining good nutrition is important during the healing process. A soft, non-chew, pureed diet and liquids are recommended. Supplementing regular meals with nutritional drinks (Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast, etc.) is recommended.

Dry Lips

Following jaw surgery, sensation to the lips is significantly decreased and on many occasions, your lips will be numb. Cracking of the lips is common. Using a non-water-soluble ointment like petroleum jelly will help reduce lip irritation.

Stitches (Sutures)

Following jaw surgery sutures are placed in the gums. The sutures may be dissolvable and eventually fall out as you heal. If your sutures require removal, they will be removed at your first follow up appointment. If your sutures fall out within five days of surgery, please contact your doctor.

Elastic Bands and Splints

Following jaw surgery, your surgeon may wire a plastic splint to your teeth to help align your bite. The splint is left in place for a minimum of two weeks. In addition, elastic rubber bands connecting the upper and lower jaws may be placed. The rubber bands should be worn continuously unless otherwise instructed. The rubber bands break frequently and will need to be replaced. You will be given additional rubber bands to take home. You may notice increased plaque accumulation on your teeth, therefore maintaining a clean mouth is essential. You may remove the rubber bands to brush your teeth, but replace them as soon as possible and as instructed by your surgeon.