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Surgical orthodontics, otherwise known as orthognathic surgery, involves surgical treatment combined with orthodontic treatment to treat severe malocclusions and/or jaw abnormalities. For patients with severe orthodontic issues, especially older patients whose jaws have stopped growing, this type of surgery may be required in order to provide the most ideal smile results. Your orthodontist works in conjunction with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure the best result. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine recognized dental specialties.
When might a patient require surgical orthodontics?
Surgical orthodontics may be needed for adult patients. Lower jaw growth stops around the age of 16-18. in females and 20-21 in. The upper jaw normally stops growing at age 13-15 for girls and 14-16 for boys. If you seek out orthodontic treatment after this time, you can still get a wonderful result, but surgery may be required in order to ensure the jaws line up correctly. For some patients, a proper bite can’t be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. This is why treatment is typically performed on adolescent patients – we have the advantage of being able to guide the growth of the jaw while we are performing the orthodontic treatment. However, orthognathic surgery can align the jaws and orthodontics can then guide the teeth to their ideal locations.
Will I know if I need orthognathic surgery?
The best way to know if you are a candidate for surgical orthodontics is to visit a trained orthodontist. As part of your treatment plan, your orthodontist will explain if you need surgery and how it can benefit your smile.
What is involved in orthognathic surgery?
Surgical orthodontics is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, usually in a hospital setting. This type of surgery can take several hours, depending on the severity and specifics of each case. Once the surgery has been completed, the patient will have a two week rest period to allow the jaw to heal properly. Orthognathic surgery is a major endeavor, so it is advised to schedule time off from work and/or school to allow for proper healing. Once your jaw has healed, you will need to visit your orthodontist to have your smile corrected. Braces will be used to guide your teeth to their proper locations. The amount of time you are in braces will depend on your individual case, however, the average patient will wear braces for 6-12 months before surgery and another 6-12 months after surgery. The braces stay on the teeth for the surgery. Then, you’ll wear a retainer to ensure your smile stays in place.
Are there risks associated with surgical orthodontics?
Orthognathic surgery is a medical surgery, so as with any surgery there are risks involved which your oral-maxillofacial surgeon will go over with you. However, it is a safe procedure that is performed in a safe setting by a specialist. Your surgeon and his or her staff should be willing to answer any questions you may have and address any concerns prior to your procedure.
What are the benefits of orthognathic surgery?
The main benefit of surgical orthodontics is gaining a healthy smile that can stand the test of time. Not only will your smile be more beautiful, it will function better, too. A straighter smile with a proper bite can restore your confidence, and help you take better care of your oral health.
Moving both jaws forward surgically can also be an effective treatment for sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea, work with your primary care physician to have a sleep study test done and see if orthognathic surgery could improve your symptoms.