Surgically Assisted Maxillary Expansion: Upper Jaw Expansion Surgery

Surgically assisted maxillary expansion (SAME) is an operation performed to expand a narrow or constricted maxilla (upper jaw). This procedure is usually performed in adults with small or narrow upper jaws.  The technique for jaw expansion is commonly used in growing children with much success.  However, once growth ceases, the bony structures in the jaw fuse together, and jaw expansion is not possible without the assistance of surgery.  The SAME procedure, together with orthodontic treatment, allows the upper jaw to be widened.  The benefits of this are correction of the crossbite, a wider or broader smile and the possibility of straightening crooked teeth without the need for tooth extraction (since there is more space to align teeth from a wider jaw).


The operation involves cutting the bone of the upper jaw with a fine saw blade, so as to “release” the tension in the bone to allow the jaw expansion appliance to widen the upper jaw over a period of a few weeks.  Following the surgical procedure, there is a rest period of 3 days, after which you will start the expansion process yourself by activating the jaw expander twice a day.  The jaw will then expand, and you will cease activation once the desired amount of expansion has taken place.  The expander is usually left in place for a few months to stabilize the expansion, or if it is removed, a retainer will be placed. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia with an overnight stay in hospital.  Recovery time is usually 1 to 2 weeks.