Surgical Orthodontics

Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthogenathic surgery, is performed when a patient’s jaws are severely misaligned to the point that braces alone may not be sufficient to achieve the best smile and function for the teeth. Many times these abnormalities cause severe difficulty chewing, talking, sleeping, and other routine activities. Surgical orthodontics corrects jaw alignment and improves the patients’ ability to perform everyday activities like breathing and eating. The procedure essentially aligns the upper and lower jaws, improving the patients’ quality of life. Because the jaw is moved, the teeth also are moved so braces are always placed in conjunction with jaw surgery. Braces ensure the proper position of the teeth post surgery.

The Surgical Orthodontic Patient

Because jaw surgery cannot be performed on a growing jaw, orthogenathic surgery will only be performed on non-growing adult patients. However, pre-surgical tooth movements can be begun one to two years prior to the surgery. Jaw growth is usually complete by 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

The Surgical Orthodontic Procedure

Prior to the surgery, braces are used to move the teeth into a new position so that they will fit together post surgery. As the braces near completion, additional or updated x-rays are done to help guide your surgery. Using the latest in 3-D digital imaging technology, we will develop a computer-assisted treatment plan designed to minimize treatment times, recovery periods, and discomfort. 

Depending on the procedure, the surgery may be performed under general anesthesia and may take one to several hours to complete. During the procedure, the jawbones are repositioned to best fit your needs. Bone may be added, removed, or reshaped and plates, screws, wires, and rubber bands may be required to hold your jaws in their new positions post surgery. Scarring is minimal as very small incisions are made inside the mouth, though sometimes they are made outside the mouth.

Post surgery, it is important to follow the modified diet your doctor has recommended. You may be required to limit solids, liquids, and tobacco products.

The Benefits

The goal of surgical orthodontic procedures is to move the teeth and jaws into a more balanced, functional, healthy position. The surgery improves the bite and function of the jaws and teeth, however, it may also improve appearance and speech.  Many patients report a dramatically improved quality of life after surgery, including an increased self-esteem and a beautiful new smile!

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