Surgical orthodontics is sometimes needed for those patients whose upper and lower jaws don’t align correctly and a proper bite cannot be achieved. Surgical orthodontics will change the alignment of your jaw, which will affect your teeth. Braces are normally involved in this process to correct teeth movement. Since this is a surgical process, there are many different options for patients to choose from to fix misaligned jaws. Find out whether you’re eligible for surgical orthodontics and what it can do to fix your smile!
What Surgical Orthodontics Entails
In some cases, surgical orthodontics is recommended for patients whose upper or lower jaws do not line up properly and thus cannot obtain a correct bite with orthodontics alone. Known also as jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery, this process involves correcting irregularities of the jaw bone and realigns the jaw and teeth to function together properly. Surgical orthodontics also can be used to fix aesthetic concerns about a patient’s profile or jaw shape/size. Since this type of orthodontic work involves correcting the alignment of your jaw, your teeth will most likely shift, as well, so braces are used in combination with this treatment.
Those patients who suffer from problems with their chewing, breathing, or speaking due to a misaligned jaw are prime candidates for surgical orthodontics. As mentioned earlier as well, patients who have aesthetic facial concerns can also benefit from these treatments to see what improvements can be made, after consulting with their orthodontist. The downside to treatment is that it cannot be performed until a patient’s jaw is fully formed, so for children and children who struggle with any of the aforementioned issues, they must wait to fully develop before any surgery can be performed. For males, jaw growth typically finishes at age 18, and for females it is completed earlier, at around 16 years of age.
What To Expect During Surgery
Surgical orthodontics include both pre and post-surgical phases in which treatment is tailored to the individual patient’s needs and jaw structure. Pre-surgery involves aligning your teeth and moving them into a more ideal position before surgery. In many cases, braces are put on 12-18 months prior to surgery to level and align your teeth in preparation for surgery. Orthodontic surgery on your upper jaw can shift it backward, forward, upward, and downward, while surgery on the lower jaw shifts the jawbone either forward or backward. Surgery is performed by an oral surgeon on the inside of the mouth, so there are no facial scars on the mouth, chin, or other surrounding areas. The surgeon makes cuts in the jawbone, which are then moved into the correct position. Tiny bone plates, screws, wires and rubber bands are used to hold the newly aligned jawbone into their new position. While smaller than the bracket that is fixed onto a tooth with braces, these screws eventually become integrated into the bone over time. In some cases, extra bone may be added to the jaw from your hip, leg, or rib, and secured with screws and plates. During your consult with your orthodontist, you will both discuss the pre and post-surgical treatments that you will be receiving, dependent upon your needs.
After surgery, the oral surgeon will provide you with certain instructions to help in the healing process, such as:
- What you can eat
- Oral hygiene
- Avoiding tobacco
- Avoiding strenuous activity
- Medications to control pain
- Timeline to return to work/school
Typically, you will need to wait at least two weeks after surgery to resume your normal activities. Initial jaw healing occurs at around six weeks, but complete healing can take up to twelve weeks. After the one month post-operation check up, most patients will be in braces for 6-12 months after surgery, in which the orthodontist will then check the progress of your smile and alignment of the jaw. The entire process, including surgery and your time with braces, can last several years, depending on the severity of the issue and what adjustments are needed.
The results of surgical orthodontics are varied and can lead to a balanced appearance of your lower face, improved function of your teeth, health benefits from improved sleeping, eating, and chewing, and improvement in speech impediments. Secondary benefits include improved self-esteem and appearance for those who seek out surgical orthodontics for aesthetic purposes.
Preventing Surgical Orthodontics
It is recommended that children visit an orthodontist between the ages of 7 to 8 for the main purpose of preventing invasive or drastic treatments later on in life. If a jaw abnormality is discovered earlier on in a child’s life, it can be evaluated and treated sooner without surgery having to be involved. If you or your child are suffering from troubled chewing, eating, breathing, or swallowing, or if you have a misaligned jaw, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for an evaluation. Our trained staff can help prepare you as you make this important step in your oral health and guide you to a healthier smile.