Corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) treats and corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, specifically the jaws and the teeth. Often, these abnormalities cause difficulty associated with chewing, talking, sleeping and other routine activities. Orthognathic surgery corrects these problems and, in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, will improve the overall appearance of the facial profile.
Orthognathic surgery may be unnecessary if orthodontic treatment can correct the problem. With the latest advances in orthodontics, this is sometimes the case. Dr. Julia Starobinets will determine if orthognathic surgery is the correct treatment option for you.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
Patients with significant jaw size/width/position/symmetry discrepancy would benefit from orthognathic surgical corrections. Examples include patients with severe open bite, excessive deep bite, retrognathic (small, underdeveloped) lower jaw, severe underbite (could be caused by underdeveloped upper jaw and/or overdeveloped lower jaw). These could be inherited, caused by craniofacial disorders and/or facial trauma.
Early dentofacial orthopedic/orthodontic treatment may reduce or eliminate the need for future orthognathic surgery in select cases.
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 20 for boys. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. However, the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages.
How does it work?
During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 6–18 months, you wear braces and will visit us 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 the orthognathic surgery, the teeth will then fit into their proper positions.
Surgery is performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon, and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw surgery, 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 should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4–8 weeks), your orthodontist "fine-tunes" your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6–12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.
What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?
As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have, and provide you with any additional information. Your comfort is important to us.
What are the rewards of having orthognathic surgery?
For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Whether you need orthodontic treatment to correct a bad bite, malocclusion, or jaw abnormality, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling with confidence for many years to come.