Kevin visited our office in November 2020 following an accident. He suffered trauma to the face, resulting in a fractured jaw and underbite. After examination, Dr. Andy Frost determined that Kevin should receive surgical orthodontics to align his teeth and reposition his jaw.
What is Surgical Orthodontics?
Surgical orthodontics combines traditional braces treatment with jaw realignment surgery to achieve a healthy, functional bite. Patients receive conventional braces for a specified period before jaw surgery (also called orthognathic surgery) to shift the teeth into their proper positions. Then, a maxillofacial surgeon straightens and corrects the jaw.
Following surgery, patients receive orthodontic treatment again for a specified time to ensure the teeth and jaw fit properly. The treatment process requires a multidisciplinary approach whereby orthodontists and surgeons work together to correct a patient’s bite issues.
Who is a Good Candidate for Orthodontic Jaw Surgery?
Like Kevin, good candidates for orthodontic jaw surgery include those who wouldn’t benefit from braces alone. Additionally, surgical orthodontics only applies to adult patients with a fully developed bone structure. Whether an individual needs orthognathic surgery depends on various factors:
- Injury to the jaw or face, like Kevin
- Congenital disabilities
- Protruding jaw
- Receding lower jaw
- And more.
Overall, patients receiving surgical orthodontic treatment have a jaw condition that causes difficulty when speaking, chewing, and swallowing. Visit your orthodontist if you have issues with your jaw and bite, as you may benefit from surgical orthodontics.
The Surgical Orthodontic Treatment Process
Kevin’s surgical orthodontic treatment lasted a year and nine months, although the length varies with each case. The process spans four stages: pre-surgical orthodontics, orthognathic surgery, recovery, and post-surgical orthodontics.
When Kevin first visited our office, Dr. Frost examined his jaw and bite to determine the course of treatment. When he deemed surgical orthodontics appropriate, he consulted with a surgeon to define each specific step. Next, Dr. Frost took x-rays, measurements, and photographs of Kevin’s jaw and bite as a baseline.
After that, Kevin received traditional metal braces to move his teeth to an ideal position. Teeth must align before surgery so the jaw can fit and function properly. Throughout the pre-surgical orthodontics stage, Dr. Frost maintained contact with Kevin’s surgeon, keeping them updated on the alignment process.
Once Kevin’s teeth were positioned favorably in his jaw, it was time for orthognathic surgery. The procedure typically occurs at a hospital or outpatient surgery center. During the surgery, the maxillofacial surgeon repositioned Kevin’s upper lower jaw to its intended place, slightly behind his upper. His teeth and jaw fit together nicely thanks to his pre-surgical orthodontic treatment.
Following surgery, patients typically feel sore and often receive prescription pain medication. After a few days, many transition to over-the-counter pain medications. Recovery time differs depending on the case, but on average, patients feel better after a couple of weeks. Bruising typically reduces after a few days, and swelling will diminish after two to three weeks.
In most cases, surgeons create incisions along the folds of the mouth with sutures that disintegrate or fall out on their own after 10-14 days. Patients commonly experience slight soreness while talking, but doing so frequently strengthens the jaw muscles and speeds up the healing process. Throughout the recovery period, lasting roughly six to nine weeks, patients visit the oral surgeon often to ensure proper healing.
Once Kevin’s recovery period ended and his surgeon verified proper healing, he returned to our office for his final round of orthodontic treatment. Like the first stage, the second stage of braces treatment varies from person to person. However, the primary goal of post-surgical orthodontics is to make final bite and teeth straightening adjustments.
As a result, Kevin went from a fractured jaw, tooth misalignment, and an underbite to a healthy, functional smile. He now wears a retainer to maintain his new smile’s appearance.
Receive Expert Surgical Orthodontics Today
Orthodontic treatment is so much more than traditional metal braces. Treatment methods continue to improve and may involve multiple dental specialties, such as in Kevin’s case. Even if you aren’t a strong candidate for surgical orthodontics, Dr. Frost can create a customized treatment plan that grants you the smile you’ve always wanted!
Schedule an appointment with us today to improve your bite, smile, and confidence.