What is surgical orthodontics?
Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities to improve the patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. 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?
Dr. Melita will consider surgical treatment for patients with severe bite problems and asymmetries that cannot be corrected using braces alone and for those with facial esthetic concerns. In a growing patient, Dr. Melita can use one of several orthodontic appliances to direct jaw growth, thus attempting to eliminate the need for surgery. Therefore, timely intervention is important. Jaw growth is usually completed by around age 16 for girls and early ’20s for boys.
How does it work?
Dr. Melita works closely with the top oral and maxillofacial surgeons at the Massachusetts General Hospital to coordinate a treatment plan. Patients then undergo an initial period of orthodontic treatment to align the teeth so that they will fit together properly after surgery is completed. Surgery usually is not scheduled until the teeth have been properly aligned. Orthodontic appliances remain in place throughout the entire process and aid in stabilizing the teeth and jaws immediately post-surgery. With the advent of rigid fixation, there is no need to “wire the jaws shut” as in the past.
Patients usually return to school or work with ten days to two weeks. After about six weeks, orthodontic treatment can resume in order to ‘fine-tune’ the bite. In most cases, braces can be removed within about six months following surgery.