Corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) treats and corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, specifically the jaws and teeth. Often, these abnormalities cause difficulty associated with chewing, talking, sleeping, and other routine activities that most people take for granted. Orthognathic surgery corrects these problems and, in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, will improve the overall appearance of the facial profile.
Surgical orthodontic treatment will be considered for non-growing adult patients with improper bites and those with facial aesthetic concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. However the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages.
During pre-surgical orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 12-18 months, you wear braces and will visit the office 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.
Surgery which is only done while there are braces on the teeth is then performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon in the hospital operating room. During surgery, jawbones and possibly other facial bones are segmented and moved to a favorable position. Once the bone segments are moved to align proper alignment, they are then fixated utilizing different methods to stabilize so that the bones can heal.
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), there will be some “fine-tuning” your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 9-18 months following surgery. After removal of the braces, there will be retainers to maintain the result that was achieved.