What Is Surgical Orthodontics?
Surgical orthodontics is a type of specialized dental treatment. It is performed by orthodontists and not traditional dental practitioners. The purpose of surgical orthodontics is to diagnose and correct several types of conditions. Some conditions may be as simple as something known as a bad bite. Other conditions may be more serious and your orthodontist may need to partner with an oral or maxillofacial surgeon.
Common treatments that fall under the umbrella of surgical orthodontics include mandibular advancement, mandibular setback, maxillary advancement, maxillary setback, correction of an openbite, correction of a gummy smile, and chin advancement. Of course, that’s not a complete list of treatments that fall under surgical orthodontics.
Who Needs Surgical Orthodontics?
Usually, surgical orthodontics don’t begin until between the ages of 16 and 18 years old. Of course, it can also be used for older patients. In girls, the jaw usually stops growing around the time that they are 16 years old. In boys, the jaw doesn’t stop growing until they are around 18 years old. The reason why surgical orthodontic treatment doesn’t occur until this age (or later) is because the goal of the surgery is to align the jaws (which create the bite of the patient). If the jaws are still growing, performing surgical orthodontics would not be able to achieve its stated purpose. After surgery, the jaw would still grow and that could cause a misalignment.
Surgical orthodontics is only used when braces and other dental appliances cannot completely fix the bite on their own. Your orthodontist will let you know if you are a candidate for surgical orthodontics.
Surgical orthodontics may be required if you have:
Mandibular advancement. This means that you have an under-developed lower jaw. This creates an overbite. In surgical orthodontics, incisions are made so that the jaws can be properly aligned.
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Mandibular setback. Mandibular setback means that your upper-jaw is under-developed. This causes you to have an underbite. Much like with a mandibular advancement, the goal of surgery is to align the jaws to correct your bite.
Maxillary advancement. Maxillary advancement creates a form of underbite that’s known as a crossbite. The incisions for this condition is usually made in the mouth on the upper jaw near where it would line up with the eye sockets.
Maxillary setback. Maxillary setback creates a form of overbite that’s known as an overjet. This surgery actually isn’t as common as a mandibular setback although they may seem similar to you as a patient. With maxillary setback, overjet is caused by the fact that the lower jaw simply did not grow enough.
Openbite. An openbite is known as maxillary impaction. The objective of surgical orthodontics is to correct the space between the front and back teeth when you bite down. Bone from the upper jaw is removed and placed higher in order to help correct the problem. The lower jaw is repositioned as well.
Gummy smile. A gummy smile means that when you smile there is a large amount of gum that is displayed when compared with others. A portion of the upper jaw bone may be moved and placed higher in order to pull the gums up and lessen the amount of gum that is displayed when you smile.
Chin advancement. Chin advancement is used for patients who have a weak jaw line. This can be used to do more than strengthen the jaw line. It can also be used to help fix the bite of the patient. Depending on the initial diagnosis, you may not need further orthodontic treatment after this procedure.
How Does It Work?
The first step in surgical orthodontics is to develop a treatment plan with your orthodontist. The orthodontist and your oral surgeon will work together to develop a plan that will best suit your specific needs. This could include setting up plaster or 3D models of your mouth, jaw, and entire face. Other specialists, including an ENT and speech therapist, may also be part of the treatment plan depending on the severity of the dental condition being treated.
Usually, the second part of treatment is the use of braces. The use of braces is an important component in your surgical orthodontic treatment. It helps create reference points in order for the oral surgeon to be able to do their job.
Next, one or more surgeries will take place in order to correct the dental issue or issues being treated. The number of surgeries you’ll need will largely depend on the severity of your dental problem. Generally, children require fewer surgeries than adults. This is because when orthodontic care starts when someone is a child, their jaws have not finished growing. This makes it easier for the specialist to guide the jaw (and other facial bones) into the right positions. Adults often require more surgeries because their bones are fixed. So, for adults to get their desired results, it often takes more surgical intervention.
With surgical orthodontics, cuts are made inside of the mouth. They are not made through the skin. This type of surgery is performed under general anesthesia. It may or may not take place in a hospital. Many oral surgeons have their own facility that is approved to offer these treatments. The bones that are repositioned will be reinforced by titanium. The titanium remains inside of the body. There is usually no need for a second procedure to remove the titanium. Most patients who undergo this type of surgery can still fully use their jaw directly after the surgery. They will suffer from some discomfort and soreness and are often advised to stick to a diet of soft foods. It can take up to six weeks to fully recovery from oral surgery of this nature.
Finally, in many instances you will use braces to reinforce the position of the teeth. In some instances, treatment ends after the surgery.
If you believe that surgical orthodontics could help you get the smile of your dreams, contact Orthodontists Associates of Western New York for a free screening.
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