What is orthognathic surgery?
Orthognathic surgery, also known as corrective jaw surgery, corrects irregularities of the jaw bones and realigns the jaws and teeth. Just as orthodontics straights your teeth, orthognathic surgery straightens your jaws, resulting in better alignment and function of your teeth as well as improved facial esthetics. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are needed in conjunction with jaw surgery to make sure the teeth fit well during and after the surgery.
Who needs orthognathic surgery?
We will consider orthognathic surgery in combination with orthodontic treatment for non-growing patients with large jaw discrepancies that cannot be corrected by just moving the teeth alone. Jaw growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed, but the orthodontic treatment can begin about 1 year prior to the surgery.
What is the process like?
Patients who have large jaw discrepancies often have teeth that naturally compensate for the jaw misalignment. We will put braces on to "decompensate", or better align the teeth so that when the jaws are surgically moved into the proper position, the teeth will fit well. We must move your teeth ahead of the surgery because the teeth serve as a guide for the oral surgeon to set your jaws during the surgery. This can take 9-12 months.
The surgery is performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon, and depending on your jaw complexities, can last several hours. You should be able to resume your daily activities within a few weeks. After the surgery, we will finish perfecting your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within six to 12 months following surgery. The total treatment time from start to finish is usually about 18-24 months for someone who needs orthognathic surgery in conjunction with orthodontics.