Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, corrects jaw irregularities to improve the patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. Surgical orthodontics straightens the jaws which also moves the teeth, so braces are always placed prior to jaw correction surgery. This ensures that the teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.
If dentofacial orthopedic treatment is not done while a patient is still growing, then skeletal discrepancies will most likely need to be corrected with surgery. Adults have jawbones that are fused and hardened, making it more challenging to adjust without surgical intervention. Dr. Oliver will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites and those with facial esthetic concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed, however the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages.
During your orthodontic treatment you will wear braces and will have routine adjustments every 6-8 weeks. As your teeth move with the braces, you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during orthognathic surgery, the teeth will then fit into their proper positions.
The type of surgical procedure that is needed will be determined by the oral surgeon. The surgery will then be performed in a hospital setting and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. When surgery is completed you should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. After the necessary healing time (approximately 4-8 weeks) your orthodontist will “fine-tune” your bite. In most cases, braces will be removed within 6-12 months following surgery. After you braces are removed, you will wear retainers to maintain your beautiful new smile.