What Is Surgical Orthodontics?

Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, corrects jaw alignment to improve a patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. In other words, surgical orthodontics aligns the upper and lower jaws. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always placed in conjunction with jaw surgery. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.

Who Needs Surgical Orthodontics?

Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites due to poor jaw alignment and those with facial aesthetic concerns that are skeletal in nature. 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. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

How Does Orthognathic Surgical Treatment Work?

During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 18-24 months, you wear braces and will visit the orthodontist for scheduled adjustments to your braces. Your teeth will be moved into a position that anticipates the future surgical movement of the jaws. After your orthognathic surgery, jaws are placed into proper alignment and several more months in braces will allow the teeth to fit into their proper positions. Orthognathic surgery is 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, the jaw can be raised or lowered or the jaw can be expanded. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added/removed 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, most patients are able to return to school or work within a few weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4–8 weeks), your orthodontist “fine-tunes” your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6–12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.

Adjusting the position of teeth is the most common orthodontic treatment that clients require, but it isn’t the only treatment available from orthodontists. Aligning the upper and lower jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always included in surgical orthodontic treatment. This particular form of Annapolis orthodontic treatment is only for patients who have completed jaw growth.

Some patients require an adjustment to their jaw to improve their ability to:

  • Chew
  • Speak
  • Breathe

Before surgical orthodontics are done, the pre-surgery moving of the teeth can begin about one or two years before surgery. The entire treatment lasts between 18 and 24 months beginning with the moving of the teeth, which are placed in a position that anticipates the new jaw position. Once the jaw is moved, patients are expected to wear braces for a few more months afterward to ensure the teeth fit into their new positions.