Providence Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics

Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Surgical orthodontics is more commonly known as Orthognathic surgery.  Surgical orthodontics is usually carried out to improve jaw alignment and bite disorders. This surgery requires the teamwork of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and an orthodontist.  A patient benefits from surgical orthodontics in multiple ways. The surgery helps in improving a patient’s speaking, chewing, and breathing capabilities.  It also greatly improves a patient’s overall facial appearance and esthetics.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

Adult patients with improper bites and facial aesthetic concerns who have reached physical maturity are candidates for Orthognathic surgery.  Jaw growth is typically completed by age 16-18 in females and age 18-21 in males.  It is essential that jaw growth is completed before Orthognathic surgery is performed. Pre-surgical tooth movements do not require the condition of full growth of the jaw and can start one to two years earlier, sometimes as early as 14-15 years of age.  Dr. Adam will inform you at your consultation if are a candidate for Orthognathic surgery.

How does surgical orthodontics work?

There are typically three stages to surgical orthodontics: 1. Pre-surgical orthodontics (with either braces or clear aligners), 2. the actual Orthognathic surgery procedure (movement of jaw bones) performed by the oral surgeon, and 3. Post-surgical orthodontic tooth movement (continued with braces or clear aligners). In certain cases, the pre-surgical treatment with braces or aligners may actually worsen the bite instead of correcting the alignment prior to initiating surgery.  

Orthognathic surgery involves moving either one or both jaws into proper alignment and balance with each other, which results in the teeth fitting properly into the correct position. Our office works closely with on oral surgeon to design a detailed custom plan that involves virtual planning with 3-D software.

How Long is the Post-Surgery Recovery Period?

The recovery period of orthodontic surgery is about 1-2 weeks, and the patient will be able to return to school or work after this time period. The surgery will take between 4 and 8 weeks to completely heal. Minor adjustments will be required to be made to the patient’s bite by the orthodontist after the surgery. The removal of braces or clear aligners is usually carried out 6 to 12 months after the surgery. The patient is required to wear a retainer after the braces are removed to maintain the corrected position of the teeth, just like our patients that did not require surgery.