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Side view of a woman's mouth smiling with braces on

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 SurgeryClose up view of a patient in dental 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.

 

Post-Surgery Care

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.

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Close-up view of 4 wisdom teeth that have been pulled

The wisdom teeth are back molars that, on average, come in between the ages of 17 and 21. Wisdom teeth can put pressure on the rest of your teeth and make them crooked if something isn’t done about them. You don’t want wisdom teeth to undo all the hard work you spent getting your teeth straight. Find out how wisdom teeth affect your oral health and what to do about them if you are planning on getting braces or if you just got them off!

 

Your Permanent Teeth

Every person gets two sets of teeth during their lifetime: the baby teeth and the permanent teeth. If you are reading this, then you have already likely lost all your baby teeth. That means you are left with your permanent, adult teeth, which you will have for the rest of your life. Well, at least most of them. The majority of Americans get their wisdom teeth removed to help keep their mouth healthier. You have several sets of large teeth in your mouth, which are called the molars. These are the bigger teeth towards the back of your mouth that help you chew up food.

 

Most people have all of their permanent teeth by their early teen years. However, there are up to 4 teeth that come into the mouth later on, usually between the ages of 17 and 21. These are the wisdom teeth, and no they are not teeth that provide you with your wisdom. These are a third set of molars that come in as you transition from a young adult to an adult. As a people, we don’t really use these third molars, but our ancestors in centuries past may have had much more use for them when it came to chewing meat.

 

However, one of the reasons they are called the “wisdom teeth” is because this transitioning stage from young adulthood to adulthood. This is generally a time when people rapidly mature and make many life changes, which helps increase their wisdom. Hence, the “wisdom teeth”.

 

X-rays of a person's mouth highlighting the wisdom teeth

What to Do About the Wisdom Teeth?

As mentioned, we don’t really use these third molars in our day. In fact, the wisdom teeth can actually cause your smile more harm than good. They come into your mouth at an angle, which can put pressure on your closest molars. The wisdom teeth can push those molars, causing all the teeth to start pushing into each other. This creates a crooked smile. The pressure and angles of these wisdom teeth coming in can weaken the second molars or crack them. When the wisdom teeth start coming into the mouth at an angle, they are called “impacted teeth”.

 

Generally, the wisdom teeth crowding or damaging your teeth isn’t painful. However, if you develop tooth decay because of the wisdom teeth, and it gets severe, then you will feel pain. Some patients will have the wisdom teeth sit right underneath a layer of gum tissue. That this layer can collect bacteria and food particles, which can actually lead to an infection in your mouth, which you don’t want. Other patients also have bone or other teeth blocking the wisdom teeth, so they will never come in very well and will really damage your smile. Hence, the reason why they are so often taken out. You don’t really need them and they generally cause mostly problems instead of benefits.

 

What Is Surgical Orthodontics?

Many people are born with 4 wisdom teeth. However, depending on genetics, some people may only have 1, 2 or 3 wisdom teeth or even none at all. It all depends on the genetics you have. Some will have them only in their top jaw or only in the bottom jaw. However, there are so many problems with these teeth that we recommend that they be removed before your smile is affected. Surgical orthodontics and surgical dental procedures can remove the wisdom teeth.

 

These procedures will either use topical anesthetics or will put a patient completely under to remove the wisdom teeth. We take full x-rays of both the top and lower jaw of your teeth so you can see the angle and trajectory of your incoming wisdom teeth and how they will affect your oral health. Generally, the gums are cut right above where the wisdom teeth lie. Then, they are removed with dental tools and the gum flaps are put back in place and closed up. In just a few weeks, you will feel good as new and you won’t have problems with your wisdom teeth. For such a simple procedure, it’s worth it to protect your smile and to keep it straight.

 

Young girl getting a wisdom teeth pulled by a dentist

Keeping Your Smile Healthy

Just like any other part of your body, it may take many steps and actions to keep those parts healthy. Your smile is something that takes work to maintain, but luckily it’s not hard work. All you have to do is brush your teeth at least twice a day as recommended by the American Dental Association. They also recommend flossing at least once (if not more), using mouthwash and fluoride products, and seeing your dental professional often.

These things don’t take much time and effort, but those small actions can save your smile and keep it healthy and straight throughout life. If you need tips for keeping your mouth healthy or you want to know more about what you should do with your wisdom teeth removal, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!