Surgical Orthodontics

Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, involves a team effort by your orthodontist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to treat severe cases with bad bites and/or facial imbalances that are caused by having mismatched jaws. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine recognized dental specialties, and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial cases that involve the mouth, jaw, face, and skull. If you need surgical orthodontics, your orthodontist will work closely with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure that you receive the best care possible.

When might surgical orthodontics be needed?

Surgical orthodontics may be used to treat older teenagers and  adults with improper bites and/or facial abnormalities. Typically, jaw growth slows down and eventually stops in the late teens (approximately 16-18 in females and 18-20 in males). In order to receive orthognathic surgery with a long lasting, stable result, the jaws must be done growing.  

How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?

The need for surgical orthodontic treatment occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly, and a proper bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. Your orthodontist can tell you if orthognathic surgery is the preferred treatment option for you. Depending on the severity of your case and the alignment of your jaws, surgery may or may not be indicated for you. 

How does the orthognathic surgery process work?

Most patients wear braces for approximately 12-18 months in preparation for surgery. The goal of the orthodontist at this point is to simply to get the teeth aligned properly on each respective jaw without too much concern for how the upper and lower teeth actually fit together under the current jaw positions. Once set up properly for surgery, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery. The goal of the surgery is to now get the jaws fitting together properly in order to achieve the very best bite and facial balance. Orthognathic surgery will usually take place in a hospital and can take several hours depending on each individual case. Once the surgery is complete, you will have about a three to six week rest/healing period. At that point, your orthodontic treatment will resume for another 6-12 months to finalize tooth positions for the very best smile and bite. Note that since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and/or school during the healing process. 

What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?

As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and/or your oral surgeon to discuss your concerns. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have, and provide you with any additional information. Your peace of mind is important to us.

What are the rewards of having orthognathic surgery?

For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful smile with a healthy and functional bite that lasts a lifetime. Whether you need orthodontic treatment to correct a bad bite and/or a facial imbalance, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling with confidence for many years to come.