Surgical Orthodontics


What is surgical orthodontics?

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Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a type of orthodontic treatment done in conjunction with oral surgery to correct more significant bite problems in adults. In adolescents, Dr. Burkey can use growth modification or dentofacial orthopedics to influence jaw growth. This is not possible in non-growing individuals, and so this is where orthognathic surgery can sometimes be beneficial. Dr. Burkey has been involved in a significant number of these combined orthodontic/oral surgery cases, and he has quite a bit of experience working with oral and maxillofacial surgeons if this type of treatment if appropriate for you.

When might surgical orthodontics be needed?

Surgical orthodontics may be used to treat adults with improper bites or other esthetic concerns. Examples include when the lower jaw protrudes out in front of the upper jaw (anterior cross-bite), or when the lower jaw is far too small compared to the upper jaw (large overjet or overbite). Sometimes people have a very gummy smile, and they want to have that corrected. Jaw growth typically needs to be completed in order to receive orthognathic surgery, and this usually happens by age 16 in females and 18 in males. The need for surgical orthodontics occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly, and a proper bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. Orthognathic surgery will help properly align the jaw, and orthodontic braces are used to move the teeth into their proper positions prior to the surgery.

How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?

Dr. Burkey can tell you at your complimentary initial examination if orthognathic surgery is an option for you. Depending on the severity of your case and the alignment of your jaw, you may or may not need surgery. If appropriate, Dr. Burkey will recommend that you have a consultation with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

How does orthognathic surgery work?

First the braces are placed, and Dr. Burkey spends some time correcting crowding and aligning the teeth prior to the jaw surgery. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will then perform the orthognathic surgery while the braces are still on, and the surgery will take place in a hospital. Orthognathic surgery can take several hours depending on each individual case and typically involves a one night hospital stay. After a couple of weeks of healing, orthodontic adjustments resume to complete the alignment of the teeth. After the braces are removed, retainers are worn to help maintain your new smile.

What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?

As with any major medical surgery, there are certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. These risks will be reviewed in detail by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school for a week or two during the healing process. If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have and provide you with any additional information. Your comfort is important to us.

What are the rewards of having orthognathic surgery?

Orthodontic treatment combined with orthognathic surgery helps to restore the proper relationship of the upper with the lower arches when it is not possible to do so with conventional orthodontics alone. This will improve chewing efficiency, lessen the chance of severe wear on the teeth from interferences, sometimes provide pain relief, help restore confidence, and often make cosmetic improvements to the smile and profile not possible with braces alone.

Check out our Before-After and Testimonials page to view some of the results that are possible with surgical orthodontics.