Braces and Surgical Orthodontics

Braces are used to treat a variety of malocclusions or improper bites. For the majority of the population, a simple course of orthodontic treatment can lead to a beautiful and healthy smile. However, in some individuals the underlying problem is the position of the jaws and not just crooked teeth. In these cases braces alone are not sufficient and Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery as it is commonly known, needs to be performed in addition to braces.

Orthognathic surgery is used more and more today to correct severe bite problems in which the jaws are not aligned properly. Common examples of surgical cases include severe underbites, where the lower jaw is too far ahead of the upper jaw ; open bites or when the upper and lower front teeth do not touch ; severe class II or when the lower jaw is too far behind the upper jaw ; gummy smiles ; or jaw deviations, where the lower jaw is to the right or left of the upper jaw. It is typically performed in adults or when there is no more growth and the jaws have stabilized.

Jaw surgery involves a combined team approach of both the orthodontist and an oral surgeon. The process is typically initiated by the orthodontist. Braces are always needed in these cases and are used to align the teeth in preparation for surgery. In most cases the bite is made worst temporarily until the oral surgeon readjusts the jaws to the correct, ideal position. In a typical surgical case, braces are placed for a period of 12-18 months, after which time the patient is sent to the oral surgeon for the surgery. Once the surgery is performed, the patient is allowed to heal for a 3-4 months period. After the appropriate healing period, the orthodontist finalizes the bite and removes the braces, a process which may take an additional 6-10 months.

Orthognathic surgery can have life changing results because it creates not only a stable, ideal bite, but also significantly improves a patient’s overall facial esthetics. It is like cosmetic surgery in a sense and amazing results can be achieved.

Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Diplomate of The American Board of Orthodontics and specializes in orthodontics for Children and Adults. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation, please contact Dr. Salmassian’s at 661-222-7444