What is Orthognathic Surgery?
Orthognathic surgery is a combined orthodontic and surgical treatment approach to the correction of dental and jaw abnormalities.
Why is Orthognathic Surgery Necessary?
The upper and lower jaws are bases upon which teeth are aligned. Braces correct dental abnormalities like crooked teeth and poor bites (malocclusion). However, disharmonies of jaw size or position can only be corrected surgically.
What are the Possible Causes of Jaw Abnormalities?
There are many causes of jaw discrepancies. They may be inherited or acquired from developmental or traumatic causes. Jaw discrepancies may affect not only your facial appearance but also your bite, speech and chewing.
What Problems are Best Dealt with Orthognathic Surgery?
Common problems that can be dealt with are:
- A protruded or retruded chin
- Excessive show of gums (i.e. Gummy smiles)
- Overall elongation of face
- Facial asymmetry
What is the Sequence of Treatment?
Treatment is carried out in 4 phases:
Phase 1: Treatment Planning
Treatment planning is carried out jointly by an orthodontist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The orthodontist determines how braces will align your teeth in preparation for surgery. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon studies your jaw deformity and decides on the type of surgery most appropriate for your case. This initial phase of treatment will include consultation, records-taking and discussion of the treatment plan with you.
Phase 2: Presurgical Orthodontic Phase
Many patients undergo an initial period of presurgical orthodontic treatment which may take 9 to 18 months. The actual time taken depends on the condition, the patient's age, cooperation and other factors. During this time, patients are seen at intervals of 4 to 6 weekly intervals.
At the end of this phase, the teeth are aligned so that they will fit into a good bite after surgery.
Phase 3: Surgical Phase
Surgery is scheduled when the presurgical orthodontic phase is completed. Braces used to align teeth prior to surgery are left in place during the surgical procedure. They help in stabilising the teeth and jaw bones after surgery.
Phase 4: Post-surgical Orthodontic Phase
After surgery, post-surgical orthodontics is continued to achieve final alignment of the teeth and to retain them in their new position.
Can Surgery be Avoided?
In growing patients, timely orthodontic intervention can sometimes correct jaw disharmonies. Special braces can then be used to modify bone growth, eliminating the need for surgery. However, for patients whose facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections cannot be achieved with braces alone. A combined approach of braces and surgery is the appropriate form of treatment for them.
Are There Any Risks?
Jaw surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. Patients who undergo orthognatic surgery are generally healthy and therefore able to recover more easily. To set your mind at ease, simply ask your dental surgeons about the risks.
What are the Benefits?
Oral hygiene is easy to maintain without bad bites and crooked teeth. Speech or masticatory problems due to jaw disharmonies may be resolved. The relationship of the jaw bones is harmonised, thus improving facial appearance. The lasting reward is a healthier and happier you.
Orthognatic surgery is a predictable treatment option to complex dental/facial problems. It ensures the best possible results, both functionally and aesthetically.