Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is sometimes combined with orthodontic treatment to correct severe skeletal imbalances that include bad bites, jaw-bone abnormalities, and malocclusion. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine dental specialties, and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial problems that involve the mouth, jaw, face, and skull. Your orthodontist will work with your dentist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, to ensure that if you need surgical orthodontics you receive the best care possible.
When might surgical orthodontics be needed?
Surgical orthodontics may be used to treat adults with improper functional bites, or other aesthetic concerns. Typically, jaw growth stops by age 16 in females and 18 in males. The need for surgical orthodontics occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly and a proper bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. Orthognathic surgery will help properly align the jaws after orthodontic braces are used to move the teeth into their proper positions.
How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?
Your orthodontist can tell you if orthognathic surgery is needed as part of your treatment and can advise you of all of your options. Depending on the severity of your case and the alignment of your jaw, you may, or may not need surgery.
How does orthognathic surgery work?
The first step involves careful orthodontic and surgical planning, so you will understand exactly what is involved and are fully informed, before you start any treatment. Usually braces are fitted first, to align the teeth and then your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery. The surgery will take place in a hospital and orthognathic surgery can take several hours, depending on each individual case.
Once the surgery is completed, you will have about a two-week rest period and we recommend that you schedule some time away from work or school during this early healing process. After surgery, you will continue in braces for a further six to 12 months, to fine-tune your bite. After braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.
What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?
As with any surgery, there are certain risks when having orthognathic surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. Part of the planning process is for the surgeon to explain the relevant risks, so you are fully informed. If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please let us know. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have, and provide you with any additional information. Your comfort is important to us.
What are the benefits of having orthognathic surgery?
For many patients, the most important benefit of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a healthy, happy new smile that lasts a lifetime. For others, it is to achieve correction of a bad functional bite.
Whether you need orthodontic treatment to correct a bad bite, a malocclusion, or a jaw abnormality, orthognathic surgery can help achieve the most satisfactory functional bite, and the most pleasing aesthetic result.