Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Surgical orthodontics is also referred to as orthognathic surgery. Surgical orthodontics is usually carried out to correct jaw imbalances and resulting bite issues. This surgery requires the teamwork of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and an orthodontist and helps in improving a patient’s speaking, chewing, and breathing capabilities. It also greatly improves a patient’s facial appearance.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

Adult patients with improper bites and facial aesthetic concerns, who have reached physical maturity, are candidates for orthognathic surgery. Jaw growth is typically completed by age 16 in females and age 18 in males. It is essential that jaw growth is completed before orthognathic surgery is performed. Pre-surgical orthodontics is needed prior to surgery and can start one to two years earlier.

How does surgical orthodontics work?

Orthognathic surgery places the jaws into proper alignment, which results in the teeth fitting properly into the correct position.  Orthognathic surgery is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, but is always done in conjunction with orthodontic treatment. Typically, there is a pre-surgical orthodontic phase prior to surgery and a post-surgical orthodontic phase after surgery.

The surgery of the lower jaw requires the separation of the jawbone behind the teeth and moving the tooth-bearing portion of the jawbone forward or backwards as required. In surgery of the upper jaw, the jaw can be raised, lowered or brought forward. 

How long is the post-surgery recovery period?

The recovery period of orthodontic surgery is about two weeks, and the patient will be able to return to school or work after this time period. The surgery will take between 4 and 8 weeks to completely heal. Minor adjustments will be required to be made to the patient’s bite by the orthodontist after the surgery. The removal of braces is usually carried out 6 to 12 months after the surgery. The patient is required to wear a retainer after the braces are removed to maintain the corrected position of the teeth.