What is surgical orthodontics?
Just as orthodontics correct teeth position, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) correct jaw irregularities to improve the patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breath. Also these procedures can often time improve facial appearances. In other words, surgical orthodontics straighten your jaw. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces become necessary in conjunction with jaw correction. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper position after surgery.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. Typically jaw growth is completed by age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys. Pre surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages. Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites, and those with facial aesthetic concerns.
How does it work?
During your orthodontic treatment, which typically last 6-18 months, you wear braces and will visit your orthodontist for a scheduled adjustment to your braces. As your teeth move with the braces, you may feel like your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during orthognathic surgery, the teeth will then fit into their proper positions.
Surgery is performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon, and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added/removed to achieve the proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.
When you have completed surgery, you should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4-8 weeks), your orthodontist “fine-tunes” your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6 to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.