What is surgical orthodontics?
Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities to improve the patient's ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always required in conjunction with jaw correction. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing patients with improper bites and those with facial aesthetic concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys. All growth should generally be completed before jaw surgery can be performed.
How does it work?
During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts one to two years, braces and regular adjustments will be required. As your teeth move with the braces, you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment following surgery, the teeth will then fit into place.
Surgery is performed in a hospital environment by an oral maxillofacial surgeon. With lower jaw surgery, the jawbone where teeth are situated 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. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.
Following surgery, you should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. During the healing time, your orthodontist ‘fine tunes’ your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within six to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.