Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities to improve your ability to chew, speak, and breathe. Additionally, surgical orthodontics may be used to improve facial appearance. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces at the orthodontist office are always used in conjunction with jaw correction.
Dr. Anita Bhavnani, our orthodontist, will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for those cases beyond the scope of dental correction alone and for those with facial aesthetic concerns. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed, however the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior. On average, jaw growth is completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys, however every patient is different. A simple X-ray of the hand and wrist can help determine when growth will come to an end.
During the first part of surgical orthodontic treatment (9–18 months), you will be treated with braces at our orthodontist office and will visit Dr. Anita Bhavnani for scheduled adjustments to your braces. 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 the orthognathic surgery, your teeth will then fit into their proper positions.
Surgery is usually performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon, and can take 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 addition/removal to achieve the proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.
When you have completed surgery, you should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4–8 weeks), Dr. Anita Bhavnani “fine-tunes” your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 4–8 months following surgery. At FUNtastic Dental and Orthodontics, we will only send our patients to the most-skilled oral surgeons who perform orthognathic surgery on a routine basis to ensure that an outstanding surgical result is achieved. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.
For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Whether you need orthodontic treatment to correct a bad bite, malocclusion, or jaw abnormality, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling for many years to come.