When most people think of orthodontics, they think of braces and aligners. But orthodontics includes other treatments too, depending on the issues that are causing poor alignment and bite problems. Surgical orthodontics is a good example.
Also called orthognathic surgery, surgical orthodontics focuses on special orthodontic treatments designed to correct problems with your jaw structure that interfere with your ability to eat or speak or that cause facial deformities.
At Freedom Orthodontics in Cedar Park, Texas, top-rated orthodontist Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, is skilled in correcting serious issues in his patients through surgical orthodontics.
Here’s when Dr. Smith might recommend surgical orthodontics.
The best candidates for surgical orthodontics
Surgical orthodontics is reserved for more complex alignment problems, including asymmetrical or uneven jaw growth. Asymmetrical jaw growth means your jaw and teeth don’t line up properly, leaving you at risk for bite problems, speech problems, and facial and jaw pain.
Typically, orthognathic surgery is reserved for adult patients — generally, 18 years or older. That’s because by this age, your jaw has stopped growing. That’s important for a couple of reasons.
First, when your jaw is no longer growing and developing, the results of your surgery will be more or less permanent. If your jaw is still developing, future growth could “undo” the results of your surgery.
Second, while your jaw is growing, Dr. Smith may be able to use braces or other approaches to correct jaw problems instead of orthognathic surgery. Braces and other appliances and treatments can help guide jaw growth in younger patients, so surgery often can be avoided.
Surgery and recovery: What to expect
Before recommending surgical orthodontics, Dr. Smith performs a thorough examination and evaluation of your teeth, your jaw, your bite mechanics, and your facial structure. If he determines surgery is the best option for you, he explains the techniques he uses, along with the overall goals of your surgery.
Surgery is typically performed in a hospital under general anesthesia, so you can sleep throughout the entire procedure. During your surgery, the oral surgeon makes very precise incisions into your jaw, so he can reposition it into better alignment.
Once your jaw is in its optimal position, the oral surgeon secures it with screws, plates, or wires to hold your jaw steady while it heals. After surgery, you're discharged home with care instructions to make your recovery as comfortable and straightforward as possible.
Initial healing generally takes about six weeks, with full healing occurring in about 9-12 months. Within a month or two of your surgery, Dr. Smith continues to adjust your braces or aligners to fine-tune your results. This phase of treatment usually takes several months.
Improve your smile, improve your health
Orthodontic treatment isn’t just about cosmetics. It’s also about improving your bite mechanics and overall jaw function, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
To learn more about surgical orthodontics, call our office or request an appointment online today.