What is surgical orthodontics?

What does surgical orthodontics do?

While orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (or orthognathic surgery) rectifies jaw irregularities or straightens the jaw to enhance the patient’s facial appearance and their ability to speak, chew, and breathe. When the jaws are moved, the teeth also end up being moved, so the braces are always used when a surgical jaw correction is done. This ensures that the teeth are in the correct positions after the surgery.

What is the right age for patients requiring surgical orthodontics?

The orthodontist will consider using surgical orthodontic treatment procedures for non-growing adult patients who have improper bites as well as those adults with concerns about the facial aesthetics. In girls, jaw growth is normally completed by the age of 16, while in boys this is completed by the age of 18. Jaw surgery can only be performed after the completion of growth, that is, the patient’s jaw must have stopped growing. However, it is possible to start pre-surgical tooth movements a year or two before the surgery is scheduled to take place.

How does surgical orthodontics work?

The orthodontic treatment normally lasts between and 18 months. During this time the patient must wear braces and visit the orthodontist for scheduled adjustments to the braces. As the teeth move because of the braces, the patient might feel that the bite is getting worse rather than being corrected. However, when the jaws are properly aligned during the orthognathic surgery, the teeth will fit properly since they are now in the right positions.

Surgery is performed in a hospital by an oral surgeon. It can take several hours, though this depends on the amount and type of surgery required. When surgery is performed on the lower jaw, the jawbone behind the teeth is detached and the tooth-bearing section is shifted forward or backward to the desired position.

When the surgery is performed on the upper jaw, it is shifted forward or backward, or can be raised or lowered. In some cases, the jaws might be separated and bone added or removed to arrive at the desired alignment and stability. The surgeon might also reposition or augment other facial bones that contribute to the alignment of the teeth and jaws.

Once surgery is completed the patient can go back to school or work in two weeks. The orthodontist will fine tune the bite after four to eight weeks needed for healing. This, in a majority of cases, requires braces to be worn for 6 to 12 months after the surgery. The patient will need to wear a retainer to maintain their beautiful smile once the braces are removed.