Surgical orthodontics is a combination of orthodontic treatment and orthognathic (jaw) surgery to correct severe bite abnormalities that are caused by underlying jaw imbalances. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine recognized dental specialties, and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial issues that involve the mouth, jaw, face, and skull. If you need surgical orthodontic treatment, we will work with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure that you receive the best care possible.
When might surgical orthodontics be needed?
Surgical orthodontic treatment may be necessary when the upper and lower jaws do not line up correctly and a proper bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. Surgical orthodontics may also be used to treat adults with aesthetic concerns about their profile or jaw shape or size.
In order to have most types of orthognathic surgery, the jaws must be done growing. Typically, jaw growth is complete by age 16 to 17 in females and 18 to 21 in males. Candidates for orthognathic surgery will initially need braces to align their teeth to prepare for jaw surgery.
How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?
We will evaluate the alignment of your upper and lower jaws during your initial consultation and if the discrepancy is significant, we will discuss your options for surgical treatment and also give you alternatives for non-surgical treatment.
How does orthognathic surgery work?
In order to prepare you for orthognathic surgery, your upper and lower teeth will need to be straightened with traditional braces. The braces will need to stay in place during the surgery. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery, typically in a hospital setting. The surgery may take several hours depending on each individual case requirement. Once the surgery is complete, you will have about a two-week rest period. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process. After your jaw has healed, you will continue your routine orthodontic visits while we “fine-tune” your bite. Once your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to help maintain the alignment of your teeth.
What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?
As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. Any questions or concerns you have regarding the surgical portion of your treatment will be answered during your initial consultation with the oral surgeon participating in your care.
What are the rewards of having orthognathic surgery?
For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a proper bite and more balanced, attractive facial aesthetics. Patients who initially worry about the appearance of their profile will tend to have more confidence in their appearance after having orthodontic treatment in combination with orthognathic surgery.