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Surgical Orthodontics

Surgical orthodontics is a type of orthodontic treatment used to treat severely poor bites and/or certain jaw bone abnormalities, while also enhancing facial appearance. Some believe that surgical orthodontics has a greater influence on facial appearance than plastic surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat severe adult sleep apnea. Surgical orthodontics involves orthognathic (jaw) surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine recognized dental specialties, and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial cases that involve the mouth, jaw, face, and skull. If you need surgical orthodontics, your orthodontist will work with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure that you receive the best care possible.

When might surgical orthodontics be needed?

Surgical orthodontics may be used to treat patients with improper bites, facial appearance concerns, and/or severe adult obstructive sleep apnea. The need for surgical orthodontics occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly, and a proper, healthy bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. Orthognathic surgery will properly align the jaws, straighten the teeth, and improve facial appearance. In most cases, orthodontic braces will be used both pre-surgery and post-surgery to move the teeth into their proper position.

How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?

Your orthodontist can tell you if orthognathic surgery is an option for ideal treatment. Depending on the severity of your bite and jaw alignment, your desire to improve your facial appearance, and/or the presence of adult obstructive sleep apnea, you may or may not require surgery to achieve an ideal bite.

How does orthognathic surgery work?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery, and the surgery often takes place in a hospital. Orthognathic surgery can take several hours depending on each individual case. Once the surgery is complete, you will have about a two-week rest period. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process. After your jaw has healed, your orthodontist will once again “fine-tune” your bite. After surgery, you will have to wear braces, and most braces are removed within six to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.

What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?

As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have, and provide you with any additional information. Your comfort is important to us.

What are the rewards of having orthognathic surgery?

For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy, functional smile. Whether you need surgical orthodontics for ideal treatment of a bad bite and/or jaw abnormality, just to enhance your facial appearance, or to improve severe adult obstructive sleep apnea, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling for many years to come.

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pennsylvania dental association american association of orthodontists american dental association middle atlantic society of orthodontists dental society of chester county and delaware county