Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a type of orthodontic treatment used to correct severe malocclusions. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine dental specialties and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial cases that involve the teeth, jaws, face and skull. Your orthodontist will work with 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 bites or other aesthetic concerns. 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 while braces are being used to move the teeth into their proper position. In order to receive orthognathic surgery, the jaws must be done growing. Typically, jaw growth stops by the late teens or early twenties.
How does orthognathic surgery work?
Braces are required prior to, during and after your orthognathic surgery. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform the surgery, usually during the second half of your orthodontic treatment, and it will take place in a hospital. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, you will need to schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process (typically 2-3weeks). After your jaws have healed, your orthodontist will once again “fine-tune” your bite. Most patients have their braces removed within 6 to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.