Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Orthodontics re-aligns teeth, and surgical orthodontics (orthognathic surgery) corrects irregularities of the jaw or jaws in order to improve the ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial aesthetics. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always performed in conjunction with jaw correction. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

Your orthodontic expert may look at surgical ortho treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites and those with facial aesthetic requirements. Jaw growth is usually completed by the age of 16 for girls and by the age of 18 for boys. All growth has to be complete prior to jaw surgery being performed. But the pre-surgical tooth alignment movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages.

How does it work?

During your orthodontic treatment plan, which normally lasts 6–18 months, you wear braces and have appointments for planned adjustments. As your teeth are repositioned, at first it may feel as though your bite is getting worse rather than better. But, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during orthognathic surgery, the teeth will then fit into their desired positions.

Surgery is performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon, and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery required. For lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as required. 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 or removed for proper alignment, functionality 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 2 weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4–8 weeks), your orthodontist will adjust your bite if required. Braces are removed within 6–12 months after surgery. Once your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.

See our main orthodontics page