What is Surgical Orthodontics?
Just like orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities with respect to size, symmetry and position, to improve the patient’s ability to chew, speak, breathe and their facial appearance. Surgical orthodontics improves or harmonizes the relationship between the upper and lower jaws through a surgical procedure to align the jaws. Because moving the jaws also moves the teeth, orthodontic treatment is always done in conjunction with orthognathic surgery to ensure that the teeth are proper positions before and after surgery.
Who needs Orthognathic Surgery?
Orthognathic surgery is a consideration when there is a significant or severe discrepancy in the relationship of the upper and lower jaws or asymmetry within an individual jaw. Surgical orthodontics is also considered when there are esthetic concerns regarding facial balance. Surgery is not conducted until a patient has completed growth, typically age 16-17 years for girls and 18-19 years for boys; however; each patient is unique and a growth assessment will be performed before deciding if a patient is ready for the surgical procedure. Pre-surgical orthodontic tooth movements usually begin 1 year prior to these average ages.
How does Surgical Orthodontics Work?
Pre-surgical orthodontic tooth movements usually commence approximately 1 year before the anticipated surgery. During that time, regular visits are made to the orthodontic office for adjustments of braces or monitoring of Invisalign aligners. As your teeth are moved to prepare for surgery, you may notice that your bite appears to be getting worse rather than better. However, following the proper alignment of your jaws during orthognathic surgery, the teeth will fit into their correct positions.
Orthognathic surgery is performed in a surgical facility or hospital by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, who was initially educated as a dentist and then trained as a certified specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery. You should be able to return to work or school within 1-2 weeks following surgery. After the necessary healing time, further orthodontic adjustments are made to fine-tune your occlusion. In most cases, orthodontic treatment is completed 6-8 months succeeding surgery.
Mandibular Advancement – When the mandible (lower jaw) is surgically moved forward to match the exiting position of the maxilla (upper jaw)
Mandibular Setback – When the mandible is surgically moved backwards to match the existing position of the maxilla
Maxillary Advancement – When the maxilla is surgically moved forward to match the existing position of the mandible
Maxillary Impaction – When the maxilla is repositioned higher up. The mandible moves upward to fit the new position of the maxilla