Surgical orthodontics uses surgical procedures to reposition the teeth and jaws. This is done to help patients better chew food, form speech, and breathe. It can also balance the facial features to improve appearance. We do not use surgical orthodontics except in cases where alternatives are no viable options.
Anyone who has an orthodontic problem that cannot be treated with things like braces, expanders, or headgear can benefit from surgical orthodontics. However, only adult patients whose bones are no longer growing are eligible; this is because the jaw must be fully formed before surgery is an option. For most young women, growth will be complete by age sixteen. For most young men, growth will be complete by age eighteen.
In the majority of cases, surgical orthodontics is more than just surgery. We usually begin with braces, headgear, or other appliances to move the teeth. This part of treatment lasts between six and eighteen months. During this stage of treatment, it may feel like your alignment problems are worsening, but do not worry—the goal here is to get them into the right alignment for surgery. After the surgery, your jaws will be placed into proper alignment, and as a result, your teeth will fit together well.
Surgery is performed in the hospital by a board certified oral surgeon. This surgery may last several hours depending on the problems being corrected. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Bone can be added or removed, and the jaws can be separated. Other facial bones impacting alignment may also be altered.
After surgery is completed, most patients will be able to resume most normal activities within two weeks. Patients are generally fully healed within four to eight weeks. In the majority of cases, braces will still be worn after surgery for six to twelve months. Once everything is done, you will use a retainer to keep your teeth in place.