Corrective oral surgery (orthognathic surgery) moves teeth and jaws into a more balanced, functional and healthier position. Unequal growth of the jaws, birth defects or injury can create problems. Orthognathic means "straight jaws" and corrects a wide range of facial and jaw fractures and irregularities.
Its benefits include an improved ability to:
When only the teeth are involved, orthodontics can correct many "bite" problems but it cannot reposition jaws. Corrective oral surgery is usually performed when needed in connection with orthodontics corrections. The orthodontist and oral surgeon work together in developing your specific treatment program. A complete evaluation of the patient's condition through X-rays, photographs, facial measurements and dental impressions help them determine the best course of therapy.
Your orthodontist and oral surgeon will work closely together in preparation for your complete treatment program. First, pre-surgical orthodontics will move your teeth into a new position to fit together better after surgery. This means you'll be wearing braces for 6 to 18 months prior to the surgery. Your teeth will be carefully evaluated during orthodontic visits. When your dental correction team determines that your teeth are properly positioned, the surgery will be scheduled.
The surgery is performed in either a hospital or outpatient surgical center under general anesthesia which "puts you to sleep" during the operation. The length of surgery will depend upon the amount and type of surgery needed.
Since most incisions are made inside the mouth, no external scars are usually visible. If incisions are needed externally, the surgeon carefully conceals them in natural skin creases.
After surgery, you will experience some discomfort that is usually not significant; the pain can be controlled with medications. Your healing will take some time. Normally you can return to work or school within two weeks.
After four to eight weeks following surgery, your orthodontics treatment will continue to complete the proper positioning of your teeth. Usually your braces are removed within 6 to 12 months after surgery.
Following the removal of your braces, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a check-up. You'll have plenty to celebrate with all the benefits gained as a result of the corrective oral surgery.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO