For the majority of people with misaligned teeth, braces alone are an ideal solution to align the teeth and correct the bite. However, a small group of people may have developed a malocclusion in which the jaws are not aligned properly due to genetic reasons or even an accident that caused the problem. In these cases, braces are only a part of the solution. Orthognathic surgery carefully planned and combined with braces may be able to rectify the orthodontic problem.
What is Orthognathic Surgery (Surgical Orthodontics)?
Orthognathic Surgery (Surgical Orthodontics) is a surgical procedure to correct jaw deformities by adjusting the position or length of the jaw. This will help the profile and as a result may improve breathing, speaking, or chewing difficulties. In most cases, surgical Orthodontics is performed in conjunction with braces because after aligning the jaw, the teeth need to be aligned to fit together.
Orthodontics and Orthognathic Surgery
Typically, for most patients, the braces are placed for up to 18 months prior to the surgical realignment. What most patients notice is the bite becoming worse temporarily before the surgery, but this intentional worsening is required to align the jaws when the Orthognathic surgery is performed. The surgery is performed by an oral surgeon in a hospital. The procedure may take several hours depending on the severity and difficulty.
The surgeon may move the upper and lower jaw in almost any direction needed to correct the problem given the limitations. This is a relatively extensive surgery but the rewards certainly outweigh the burden.
Generally, it takes upwards of two weeks before the patient can return to work (or to school) and an additional few months of wearing braces to ensure the teeth are properly aligned. Once the braces are removed, a retainer is frequently required to ensure the teeth stay in place.
Why Corrective Surgery is Recommended
Orthognathic surgery maybe recommended for different reasons. It may be indicated to improve the aesthetics of the smile and facial profile by addressing disproportions in the face. In some cases it could help correct deficiencies in the bite which may be causing abnormal wear and tear of the teeth, breathing, speaking, or chewing.
Is Surgery Worth the Risks?
For many people surgery is certainly worth it. In fact, many studies have shown that people who undergone treatment are overly satisfied with the results. Similar to any other type of surgery there are risks involved. Be sure to discuss all risks and limitations with your oral surgeon and orthodontist to understand the steps needed to take.