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Surgical Orthodontics Patients

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What is Surgical Orthodontics?

Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw alignment to improve your ability to chew, speak, and breathe. Additionally, surgical orthodontics may be used to improve facial appearance. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always used in conjunction with jaw surgery.

Who Needs Surgical Orthodontics?

Model of misaligned bite

Dr. Reed will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for those cases beyond the scope of dental correction alone and for those with facial aesthetic concerns. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed, however, the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior. On average, jaw growth is completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys, however, every patient is different. X-rays are used to help determine when growth has come to an end.

How does it Work?

Model of jaw and skull bone connection

During the first part of surgical orthodontic treatment (9–18 months), you will be treated with braces and will visit Dr. Reed for scheduled adjustments to your braces. As your teeth move with the braces, you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during the orthognathic surgery, your teeth will then fit into their proper positions.

Surgery is usually performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added/removed to achieve the proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.

When you have completed surgery, you should be able to return to school or work within two weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4–8 weeks), Dr. Reed "fine-tunes" your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6–12 months following surgery. At Dr. Reed’s office, we will only send our patients to the most-skilled oral surgeons who perform orthognathic surgery on a routine basis to assure that an outstanding surgical result is achieved. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.

What are the Rewards of Having Orthognathic Surgery?

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For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy smile. The resulting change in your smile and appearance can help leave you smiling with confidence for many years to come.