Surgical Orthodontics

Also referred to as orthognathic surgery, surgical orthodontics deals with the abnormalities in the relationship of the upper and lower jaw, which can impact the position of your teeth.  Poor jaw alignment can affect chewing, breathing, speech, and proper facial symmetry and balance.   Orthognathic surgery translates to “changing jaws” and is collaboration between an orthodontist and an oral surgeon.  The oral surgeon shifts the jaws in to the correct position, while the orthodontist ensures that your teeth properly align.

When orthodontic treatment alone will not address bite and facial aesthetic concerns, your doctor may suggest orthognathic surgery, but only for patients who have finished growing. For patients in their late teens, an orthodontist may take serial cephalometric x-rays to determine the end of the growth phase before starting treatment.  These special x-rays show your profile so the doctor can see the relationship of the upper to lower jaws.  To measure the level and direction of growth, cephalometric x-rays can be taken annually and superimposed onto one another.  Once an orthodontist can see that growth is complete, surgical orthodontic treatment can begin.

Placement of the braces by the orthodontist is the first step of surgical orthodontic treatment.  During this pre-surgical phase, orthodontic treatment shifts the teeth in to the proper orientation and alignment over the jaw bone. Next, the oral surgeon completes the surgery, moving the upper and lower jaw into the correct position. In the post-surgical phase of treatment, the orthodontist will fine tune the bite after the surgery.