For some patients, in addition to orthodontic treatment, it might be recommended that they undergo orthognathic surgery. But when and why is corrective jaw surgery necessary?
“Jaw surgery is sometimes indicated if a patient has a significantly receded upper jaw, severe crossbite or open bite, a protruding jaw, or a receding lower chin,” says Alpharetta orthodontist Dr. Nima Hajibaik. “For some adult patients, it may also be indicated in addition orthodontic treatment can begin. This is because the jaw has ceased growing, and the ideal end result of treatment cannot be reached without surgery.”
Dr. Nima will work in conjunction with your dentist and oral maxillofacial surgeon to determine which corrective jaw procedure is appropriate. The treatment usually involves orthodontics both before and after surgery to ensure the teeth are in their correct positions.
Jaw surgery offers several benefits, including:
- Improvement in biting and chewing
- Minimization of excessive wear and breakdown of teeth
- Correction of facial imbalances
- Restoration of symmetry to the face and facial features
- Improvement of the appearance of gummy smiles, where lips don’t close
- Improvement of the appearance of toothless smiles, where lips cover all the teeth
- Reduction in the risk of other jaw issues
- Correction of facial injuries, defects and other abnormalities
- Relief from sleep apnea
“Correcting jaws that don’t properly align is one of the most common reasons for jaw surgery,” says Dr. Nima.
“If orthodontic treatment isn’t done at the right time, that is, before the jaw has stopped growing, it can be harder to complete treatment properly without surgery. In females, the jaw stops growing around the age of 15, and in males it stops growing around age 18. This is why the majority of orthodontic patients are adolescents – their mouths respond the best to treatment.”
Prior to surgery, you will need to wear braces that will guide your teeth to a new position. The bite is being prepared for the teeth to fit together properly after surgery, so it’s normal to feel as if your teeth don’t fit together properly during this phase. Once the jaw is repositioned, the teeth should come together in a better manner. Once you have healed from the surgery, your orthodontic treatment will resume to give you your ideal smile, and a properly functioning bite.
While it isn’t needed in every case, orthognathic surgery when indicated combined with orthodontics, can have dramatic effects on a person’s smile, and their life.