Should I Have Had My Jaw Moved Back Instead Of My Upper Jaw Moved Forward?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had orthognathic surgery three years ago when my upper jaw was moved forward. While the surgery was successful and my underbite was fixed, I have a persistent problem with my lower lip. My lower lip hangs down and I have too much tooth show. I notice now that when I pull my lower jaw back, the lower lip comes up and corrects the problem. I am now thinking that instead of having my upper jaw brought forward, I should have had my lower jaw moved back. What do you think?

A:  It is hard for me to pass any comment on your previous orthognathic surgery, not having seen any preoperative x-rays or work-up. It can be difficult to determine in a Class III malocclusion (cross-bite) whether the upper jaw should come forward or the lower jaw to go back. Either manuever will correct the malocclusion but they can have different aesthetic outcomes, even if that can be somewhat subtle.

Everyone when they move their jaw backward creates more lower lip and allows it to move upward on the front teeth. So I don’t necessarily think that you doing so proves that a sagittal split setback of the mandible was a better procedure than the LeFort advancement.  

At this point, this discussion is somewhat irrelevant. You can’t undo your jaw relationship without repeating your orthodontics and undergoing further orthognathic surgery…a process that would take years and likely result in some permanent loss of sensation of the lower lip from the mandibular setback.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana