What is surgical orthodontics?
Just as orthodontic treatment repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities to improve a patient´s ability to chew, speak, and breathe. It can also improve facial appearances. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw. Moving the jaw also moves the teeth, so orthodontics are always performed in conjunction with jaw correction. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
Dr. Duncan considers surgical orthodontic treatment for patients with improper bites and those with facial esthetic concerns. Although jaw growth must be completed before surgery can be performed, pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years beforehand. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys.
How does it work?
Surgical orthodontics lasts a total of 20 to 27 months. During the first 12 to 18 months you will wear braces ,or Invisalign® aligners if appropriate, and will visit your orthodontist for regularly scheduled adjustments. Your teeth will begin to align and you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, once you have surgery to properly align your jaws, your teeth will then fit into their proper positions.
Surgery is performed 12 to18 months into treatment. It is done in the hospital by a type of dental specialist called an oral surgeon. It typically takes several hours depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added or removed to achieve the proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.
Once the surgery is completed, most people return to school or work within 2 weeks. Your orthodontic treatment will resume shortly afterward, usually 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. Another 6 to 12 months of post-surgical orthodontics will follow while Dr. Duncan fine tunes your tooth position and bite. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.