orthognathic surgery

What is orthognathic surgery?

Sometimes the orthodontic problem is associated with a poor position of the jaws. Orthodontic treatment can straighten crooked teeth and can have limited effects on the growth and development of the jaws, but often times the problem is beyond the scope of conventional orthodontic treatment and may fall in the realm of surgical correction. If orthognathic (ortho=straight, gnathic=jaws) surgery is deemed necessary, Dr. Lash and Dr. Rubin will discuss with you in detail what is involved, and they will coordinate their orthodontic treatment with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Orthognathic surgery is a team effort and braces are necessary prior to and after the surgery. The braces are not taken off for the surgery.

Who needs orthognathic surgery?

Dr. Lash and Dr. Rubin will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites and those with facial esthetic concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys. Ideally, growth should be completed before jaw surgery is performed.

How does it work?

During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 6-18 months, you wear braces and will visit your orthodontist 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 orthognathic surgery, the teeth will then fit into their proper positions.

Surgery is 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), your orthodontist "fine-tunes" your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6 to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.