Want Braces but Hear I Need Surgery to Widen my Upper Jaw. Can Surgery Be Avoided?

I need braces, but have heard that I need surgery to widen my upper jaw because it is too narrow. Is there any way to avoid surgery?

Doctor Answers 3

Is surgery necessary for jaw expansion?

The upper jaw can be expanded with  braces during the period that the face is still growing. After the mid-teens, attempts to expand with braces will probably result only in tooth movement, not change in the underlying jaw structure. With minor problems of jaw narrowness, this might be sufficient to achieve a satisfactory outcome. In more severe problems, such tooth movement might cause future bone and gum recession arounfd the back teeth.

There have been major advancements in orthodontic and facial surgical techniques in recent years. Rely on your orthodontist and the surgeon with whom he or she collaborates to arrive at a plan that will work best for your particular set of circumstances. 

Mercer Island Orthodontist

Arch expansion to widen may be an option

If a dentist or orthodontist said surgery is the only way, then perhaps.  If you heard from a friend that surgery would be needed, you may find that there are other options.  Expanding the arches may be possible and should be explored.

Another option my be simply compromised care.  Meaning, braces without surgery may yield an acceptable result, but not quite as good as the surgery route.  If you are OK with "better" and not "perfect", then you may be happy with alternatives.

Lance Timmerman, DMD, MAGD
Seattle Dentist
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

There are other options besides surgery...

If your orthodontist told you that surgery was needed, I'm sure its accurate.  In an adult, you cannot successfully widen the upper jaw without surgery or you are likely to cause gum tissue and bone problems.

With that said, it is possible to accept a compromise in your result and simply line up the teeth without surgery and leave your upper jaw narrow.  Thus, your bite will NOT be corrected.  While this is not the favored and best option, it is still an option.  From my perspective, why would I make someone live their whole life with crooked teeth just because they didn't want surgery.  Educate yourself, I'm sure surgery is the BEST option, but then discuss compromises. 

Todd Barnett, DMD
Akron Orthodontist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.