Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is performed to alleviate bite problems or facial concerns that cannot be properly corrected with braces. It is performed in cooperation with your orthodontist, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and your family dentist. If indicated, this surgery may improve your chewing, breathing, and speaking capability. The surgery may also greatly improve facial appearance.
How does it work?
A patients braces move the teeth, it may feel as though the bite is getting worse rather than improving. 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 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 and have 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 orthodontist will continue to adjust your braces until your bite correction is ideal. Braces are usually removed within six to twelve months after surgery and a retainer is worn to maintain proper alignment.