Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Surgical orthodontics is more commonly known as orthognathic surgery. Surgical orthodontics is usually carried out to improve jaw alignment and bite disorders. This surgery requires the teamwork of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and an orthodontist. A patient benefits from surgical orthodontics in multiple ways. The surgery helps in improving a patient’s speaking, chewing, and breathing capabilities. It also greatly improves a patient’s facial appearance.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

Adult patients with improper bites and facial aesthetic concerns who have reached physical maturity are candidates for orthognathic surgery. Jaw growth is typically completed by age 17 in females and age 21 in males. Jaw growth must be completed before orthognathic surgery is performed. Pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years before full jaw growth is completed, without requiring the jaw to be fully grown.

How does surgical orthodontics work?

In certain cases, treatment with braces may worsen the bite instead of correcting the alignment. A patient may visit the orthodontist for routine adjustments during orthodontic treatment. As the braces adjust the teeth, the worsening of the bite is observed, indicating that the treatment is not proving effective. The orthodontist may then decide to recommend orthognathic surgery.

Orthognathic surgery places the jaws into proper alignment, which results in the teeth fitting properly into the correct position. The surgery may take several hours. The time required for surgery depends on the condition of the patient. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs the orthognathic surgery.

The surgery of the lower jaw requires the separation of the jawbone behind the teeth and moving the tooth-bearing portion of the jawbone forward or backward as necessary. In surgery of the upper jaw, the jaw can be raised, repositioned, or lowered forward or backward. Some movements may need the jaws to be separated and the addition or removal of bones to attain stability and proper alignment. Facial bones that help in the alignment can also be repositioned or augmented.

How long is the post-surgery recovery period?

The recovery period for orthodontic surgery is approximately two weeks, after which the patient can typically return to school or work. The surgery will take between 4 and 8 weeks to completely heal. Adjustments will be required to be made to the patient’s bite by the orthodontist after the surgery. The removal of braces is usually carried out 6 to 12 months after the surgery. The patient must wear a retainer after the braces are removed to maintain the corrected position of their teeth.