What is Surgical Orthodontics?

Surgical orthodontics is a type of orthodontic treatment used to correct severe cases that include bad bites, jaw bone abnormalities, and others. Jaw surgery may be a corrective option if you have jaw problems that can't be resolved with orthodontics alone. In most cases, you also have braces on your teeth before surgery and during recovery after surgery until healing and alignment are complete. If you need surgical orthodontics, your Orthodontist will work with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure that you receive the best care possible.

When would jaw surgery or surgical orthodontics be needed?

  • To correct problems with swallowing or speech
  • To minimize excessive wear and breakdown of teeth
  • To make biting and chewing easier
  • To correct facial imbalance and issues with bite and jaw closure
  • To relieve pain caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and other jaw problems
  • To provide relief for obstructive sleep apnea

Before you can undergo surgical orthodontics, it is required that your jaw structure is nearly or fully grown. For female patients, this occurs around the age of 16, while male patients need to be at least 19 or 20 years of age. In other words, surgical orthodontics is only for adult patients. Depending on the severity of your case and alignment of your jaw, you may or may not need surgery. Your Orthodontist will be able to guide you if orthodontic surgery is needed as part of your treatment.

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What are the Risks Associated with Orthodontic Surgery?

Risks of surgery may include:

  • Blood loss
  • Infection
  • Nerve injury
  • Jaw fracture
  • Relapse of the jaw to the original position
  • Problems with bite fit and jaw joint pain
  • Need for further surgery
  • Need for root canal therapy on selected teeth
  • Loss of a portion of the jaw

Recovering after Orthodontic Surgery

Full recovery after surgery can take anywhere from 1-2 months, during which we will regularly see you to check your progress and fine-tune any issues. However, you can expect to return to work or school 2 weeks after the operation or even sooner.

After surgery, you may experience:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Problems with eating that can be addressed with nutritional supplements or consultation with a dietitian
  • A brief time of adjustment to a new facial appearance

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