Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is performed to alleviate bite problems or facial esthetic concerns that cannot be properly corrected with braces alone. It is performed in cooperation with your doctor, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and your family dentist. If indicated, this surgery may improve your chewing, breathing, and speech capabilities. The surgery may also greatly improve facial appearance. At Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics, we can help identify if surgical orthodontics are a right fit for you.
How Surgical Orthodontics Works
After determining that a patient is a good fit for orthodontic surgery, they will wear braces and visit their doctor for adjustments during orthodontic treatment in preparation for surgery. As the braces move the teeth, it may feel as though the bite is getting worse, rather than improving. However, once orthognathic surgery repositions the jaws, the teeth will properly fit into a good bite. Orthognathic surgery is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in a hospital, and it can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed.
Lower jaw surgery requires separating the jawbone behind the teeth and moving the tooth-bearing portion of the jawbone backward or forward as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be lowered, raised, expanded, or repositioned backward or forward. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added or removed to achieve proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be augmented or repositioned.
It will take one to two weeks to return to work or school after surgery, and six to eight weeks for the jaws to completely heal. After that, the doctor will continue to adjust the braces until the bite correction is ideal. Braces are usually removed six to 12 months after surgery. Once the braces are removed, a retainer is worn to maintain proper alignment.