What is surgical orthodontics?
Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw growth discrepancies to improve chewing, speaking, breathing, and facial appearances. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always performed in conjunction with orthognathic surgery. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery. Dr. Huse will refer you to an oral surgeon for a consultation appointment if this is an option for you.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
Dr. Huse will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing patients with significant jaw discrepancies and those with facial aesthetic or profile concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. However, the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin 9 to 18 months prior to these ages.
How does it work?
Most patients will be in braces for 9 to 18 months prior to surgery. As your teeth move with braces, you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during orthognathic surgery, the teeth will fit into their proper positions.
Surgery is performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone (mandible) is separated behind the teeth and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw (maxillary) surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or raised or lowered. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added or removed to achieve proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.
When you have completed surgery, you should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. You will also see Dr. Huse two weeks after surgery, just for a quick check and adjustment of your elastics. Then, four weeks after the surgery Dr. Huse will continue to fine tune your bite until a stable occlusion and smile have been reached. In most cases, braces are removed within 6 to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.