Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) uses braces in conjunction with an operation to correct jaw irregularities and improve the patient´s ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw. Braces are always used in conjunction with jaw correction to fit the teeth in the new bite.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non- growing patients (or close to finished rowing) with more severe bite problems and those with facial aesthetic concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

How does it work?

During your orthodontic treatment, you wear braces and will visit your orthodontist for scheduled adjustments to your braces. As your teeth move with the braces, you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, once your jaws are placed into proper alignment during orthognathic surgery (about one half to two thirds of the way through the orthodontic treatment), the teeth will then fit into their proper positions.

Surgery is performed in the hospital by an oral surgeon. 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 9 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.

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