Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, orthognathic surgery corrects jaw irregularities to improve the patient's ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. In other words, orthognathic surgery 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 orthognathic surgery?
Orthognathic surgery may be unnecessary if orthodontic treatment can correct the problem. With the latest advances in orthodontics, this is sometimes the case. We will help you determine if orthognathic surgery is the right treatment option for you. If so, Dr. Bedont is experienced with the orthodontics required for this surgery and will work closely with your surgeon to ensure the best possible results.
Dr. Bedont will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients and teenagers with improper bites, and those with facial aesthetic concerns. Growth of the jaws must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. However, the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin before completion of growth. Dr. Bedont will help determine the best time to begin orthodontic treatment in preparation for orthognathic surgery.
How does it work?
During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 12-24 months, you wear braces and will visit Dr. Bedont 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. We look at it as taking one step back to take 4 steps forward.
Surgery is performed in the hospital by an oral surgeon and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. The most common procedure to move the lower jaw is a bilateral sagital split osteotomy (BSSO). In this surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. The most common procedure to move the upper jaw is the LeFort osteotomy. In this surgery, the upper jaw can be repositioned forward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Certain movements may require the upper jaw to be separated, with bone added or 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. Bedont will "fine-tune" 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.