Orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery) is a type of orthodontic treatment used to correct severe cases that include improper bite relationships and skeletal abnormalities. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine recognized dental specialties, and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial cases that involve the mouth, jaw, face, and skull. If you need surgical orthodontics, Dr. Courtney will work with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure that you receive the best care possible.
Surgical orthodontics may be used to treat adults with improper bites or other cosmetic concerns. The need for surgical orthodontics occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly, and a proper bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic appliances alone. Orthognathic surgery will help properly align the jaw while orthodontic appliances are used to move the teeth into their proper position.
In most cases, surgical orthodontics is not recommended in patients who are still growing. Typically, jaw growth stops by age 18 in females and age 20 in males. In order to receive orthognathic surgery, the jaw must be done growing, otherwise a patient can outgrow their surgical correction. A sequence of special x-rays can help the orthodontist determine if jaw growth is complete.
Dr. Courtney can tell you if orthognathic surgery is needed as part of your treatment. Depending on the severity of your case and the alignment of your jaw, you may or may not need surgery.
Orthodontic appliances are placed on the teeth to begin the initial alignment phase of treatment. This stage of treatment usually takes about 12 months. Then an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery, and the surgery will take place in a hospital. Orthognathic surgery can take several hours depending on each individual case. Once the surgery is complete, you will have about a two-week rest period. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process. After your jaw has healed, Dr. Courtney will work to perfect your bite. Usually orthodontic appliances are removed within six to 12 months following surgery. Once treatment is complete, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.
As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery; however, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new. It has been performed for many years and has helped patients achieve results that would not have been possible with braces alone. Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will be able to answer details pertaining to the specific procedure and recovery process as each case is unique. If you are concerned about an upcoming treatment involving orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any general questions that you may have.
For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Often, surgery can achieve a more noticeable improvement in the bite and jaw relationships than braces alone. The improvements can be both cosmetic and functional in nature. Together, orthodontic treatment and surgery can leave you smiling with confidence for many years to come.