What is Surgical Orthodontics?
As dental professionals, we as orthodontists specialize in the adjusting of teeth and the correction of tooth and jaw abnormalities. Surgical orthodontics is an even more specialized form of orthodontics that uses surgery as a means of correcting irregularities that can negatively impact your child’s speech, airways, and chewing ability.
The objective of orthognathic surgery is to:
- straighten the jaw
- improve the bite
- adjust the teeth and smile
In order to ensure that the appropriate adjustments are made to the teeth as well, braces are always used along with surgery. This will help your child’s teeth to maintain the appropriate spacing and positioning after the surgery.
Who is in Need of Orthodontic Surgery?
Surgical orthodontics is ideal for those patients who are near adulthood. In other words, this is a child who has reached maturity and whose jaw is no longer growing. The age at which your son or daughter will qualify for surgery of this kind will vary, but will typically be around age 18 for males and age 16 for females. Again, your child’s jaw MUST be done growing. This will ensure that the results are more permanent and will more effectively correct any and all aesthetic and/or functional concerns. While the surgery will not take place until the jaw is done growing, the analysis of the jaw, teeth, and bite will likely begin years earlier so that we have a very clear idea of what adjustments need to be made.
What Should You Expect During and From the Actual Surgery?
Part 1: Braces
The entire treatment will typically last between six and eighteen months. The first step is to adjust the teeth with braces. This will shift the teeth as needed. It’s important for you and your child to keep in mind that prior to surgery, the adjustments may seem to be making the bite and alignment worse. However, this is an integral part of the process and will help ensure that the teeth are in the correct place following the surgery.
Part 2: Surgery
An oral surgeon will be the one to perform the surgery itself. The procedure will vary in length, depending upon the type and extent of the adjustments needed. If surgery is required for the upper jaw, the surgeon will adjust the jaw up, down, forward, or backward until the desired position is reached. In the case of lower jaw surgery, the jaw is disconnected where the teeth begin and the teeth portion of the jaw is adjusted. Depending upon the needs of your child, bone may need to be removed or grafted in order for the proper results to be achieved.
Part 3: Post-Op Recovery and Follow-Ups
After surgery, it’s recommended that your child rest for approximately two weeks, after which he or she can typically resume going to school or work. Healing will usually require between four and eight weeks, and then we’ll make whatever other small adjustments are necessary. Braces will likely be recommended for another six months to a year. Once they come off, a retainer will help your child to maintain that new and beautiful smile!
Give Us a Call!
If you believe that you or your child may be able to benefit from orthodontic surgery, please fill out our contact form or give us a call at your convenience. Our friendly staff would love to help you to schedule a consultation.