For most people, the word orthodontics is synonymous with braces. But orthodontics includes lots of other treatments as well — including surgical orthodontics. Also called orthognathic surgery, surgical orthodontics uses special techniques to correct jaw alignment and bite problems that can’t be corrected with traditional orthodontics alone.
As a leading orthodontist in Cedar Park, Texas, Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, has extensive experience in surgical orthodontic techniques aimed at helping his patients at Freedom Orthodontics improve their bite mechanics. Dr. Smith uses a patient-centered approach focused on your unique needs.
Surgical orthodontics offers great benefits, but as with any other type of surgery, it’s not unusual to feel a little anxious about an upcoming procedure. In this post, Dr. Smith provides an overview of what to expect at every phase of care, so you can feel relaxed and confident about your treatment and results.
Getting ready for surgical orthodontics
Like any surgery, preparing ahead of time is important for a smooth recovery. Before your surgery, Dr. Smith provides instructions to help you get ready. Your instructions may include information about when to stop eating and drinking, whether or not you should take your prescription medicines, and even how to dress so you’ll be comfortable.
Take time to carefully review your instructions, and if you have any questions, give our office a call so we can get you the answers you need before your procedure.
Because orthodontic surgery can temporarily affect the way you eat, you should also take a little time to stock your pantry with liquid foods like smoothies, yogurt-based drinks, soups, and nutritional drinks. If you don’t have a blender, ask a friend if you can borrow one or consider buying one so you can easily puree foods at home.
Since you’ll be groggy after your surgery, you’ll need to have someone drive you home. You should also arrange to have someone stay with you for that first day, and ideally, overnight.
During the procedure
Orthodontic surgery uses sedation or anesthesia to keep you relaxed and comfortable. Sedatives and anesthetics are delivered through an IV into your arm.
Once you’re sedated, surgery begins with a series of very precise incisions into your gum tissue and jawbone. Dr. Smith gently repositions your jaw into proper alignment, securing your jaw in its new position by using surgical hardware, like screws, wires, or metal plates.
Surgery takes at least an hour, and most surgeries take several hours. Dr. Smith gives you an estimate of how long your surgery will take before the day of your procedure. After your surgery, we monitor you for a brief period while you recover, then we discharge you. This is when you need that helper to drive you home.
Recovering after surgery
After the sedative and pain reliever wear off, your jaw will feel sore. Many people find over-the-counter pain relievers work well to minimize discomfort, but Dr. Smith might prescribe a pain medication to use for the first couple of days as well. You may also receive a prescription for oral antibiotics.
In most cases, you should plan to take 10-14 days off work or school so you can focus on recovery and healing. During that time, you’ll probably need to follow a liquid or pureed diet. The initial healing phase takes around 6 weeks, depending on the type of surgery, with complete healing can take 9-12 months.
As you recover, you’ll have several follow-up visits to monitor your progress. Dr. Smith also begins planning out the next phase of your treatment with either braces or Invisalign®. This phase typically begins about 4-8 weeks after your surgery.
Advanced care for your oral health
Surgical orthodontics was developed specifically for patients with jaw issues that interfere with normal bite mechanics (and sometimes facial aesthetics). Dr. Smith is skilled in advanced, state-of-the-art surgical techniques, enabling him to fine-tune your surgery to your unique needs and goals.
If orthognathic surgery is in your future, you can feel confident that Dr. Smith has the skills and experience to achieve the best possible results. To learn more about surgical orthodontics, call Freedom Orthodontics or book an appointment online today.