Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw discrepancies to improve the patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearance. Braces are necessary to position the teeth prior to surgically repositioning the jaws. Properly done, the teeth and jaws fit together after surgery.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites and those with facial aesthetic 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 orthodontic treatment can begin one to two years prior to the anticipated surgery. Un-erupted, and or, impacted third molar (wisdom teeth) should be removed at least six months prior to surgery.

How does surgical orthodontics work?

During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 12-18 months, you wear braces and will visit your orthodontist for scheduled adjustments to your braces. As your teeth move with the 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 then fit into their proper positions.

Surgery is performed in the hospital under general anesthesia by an oral Maxillofacial surgeon and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery (bilateral sagittal split osteotomy), the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed.

In upper jaw surgery (Lefort osteotomy), the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added/removed to achieve the proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.

When you have completed surgery, you may be required to wear rubber bands (elastics) to help maintain the occlusion and jaw relationship. You should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4-8 weeks), Dr. Austin will check your bite and make any necessary adjustments.

If you think that you or your children my require oral surgery call Austin Orthodontics in Santa Monica at (310) 393-8233 for a complimentary evaluation and consultation.