Surgical Orthodontics: What You Need To Know

Although many oral issues can be treated with braces, aligners, or other orthodontic appliances, we occasionally run into a case that cannot be successfully corrected with conventional solutions. Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery or corrective jaw surgery, treats and corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, specifically the jaws and the teeth. These abnormalities can interfere with everyday activities, including the ability to chew and talk properly. They can also cause snoring, sleep apnea, TMJ pain, and headaches.

Corrective jaw surgery with Christian Manley Orthodontics can correct these issues, and may improve the overall appearance of a patient’s facial profile when paired with orthodontic treatment. Dr. Manley uses computerized treatment planning to minimize the treatment time and recovery period, and to produce exceptional results. In fact, the latest advances in orthodontics mean that corrective jaw surgery may not even be necessary for some patients! When you schedule a FREE Manley Smile Assessment, Dr. Manley will be able to determine if orthognathic surgery is the correct treatment option for you and your smile. 

What You Need To Know About Surgical Orthodontics

Are you a good candidate for surgical orthodontics?

Our jaws grow gradually throughout childhood and adolescence, and in some cases, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. As mentioned above, this can result in a number of problems that can affect everything from chewing and speech to long-term oral health and appearance. 

Whatever the underlying cause, misalignment can cause functional and aesthetic problems for patients. In severe cases, orthognathic surgery may be needed to move the jaw and teeth into the correct positions. Surgical orthodontics may also be used to fix aesthetic concerns with the facial profile or the size and shape of the jaw. 

If you have any of the following symptoms, we recommend scheduling a consultation with Dr. Manley for an orthodontic evaluation

  • Difficulty when chewing, biting, or swallowing
  • Problems with your speech
  • Chronic jaw or TMJ pain
  • Open bite
  • Protruding jaw
  • Breathing problems
  • Snoring or sleep apnea

Any of these symptoms can exist at birth, be acquired due to hereditary or environmental influences, or result from trauma to the face. Since this type of orthodontic work involves correcting the alignment of your jaw, your teeth are likely to shift at some point as well. This is why we will often use braces or clear aligner therapy in conjunction with surgery.

We will usually wait until the jaw has stopped growing before determining whether surgery is the appropriate treatment, which generally happens between the ages of 16 and 18. If your jaw growth is complete, Dr. Manley can evaluate your jaws, teeth, and gums in order to determine if surgical orthodontics would be the best course of treatment for your specific case. 

What to expect from surgical orthodontics

Surgical orthodontics includes a pre- and post-surgical phase. Treatment in both phases will be tailored to each patient’s specific needs and jaw structure. In the pre-surgery phase, we will work towards aligning the teeth and moving them into a more optimal position. We will often place braces on the teeth for 12-18 months prior to surgery in order to align them in preparation for surgery. 

Orthodontic surgery on the upper jaw can shift it backward, forward, upward, and downward, while surgery on the lower jaw will shift the jawbone forward or backward. An oral surgeon will perform the actual procedure inside the mouth, so there’s no need to worry about visible facial scars. Cuts are made in the jawbone, which is then moved into the correct position. The surgeon will use very small bone plates, screws, wires, and rubber bands to hold the jawbone in the newly aligned position. In some cases, extra bone may be added to the jaw from your hip, leg, or rib, then secured with screws and plates. 

Complete healing can take up to twelve weeks, but there is some initial healing by about six weeks post-surgery. Most patients will need to wait about two weeks before resuming their normal daily activities, and can expect to be in braces for 6-12 months after corrective jaw surgery. Depending on the severity of the issue and what adjustments are needed, the process may take place over many months or even years.

Successful orthognathic surgery can lead to a more balanced facial appearance and improved functionality. Sleeping, eating, and chewing will be easier, and there will often be a noticeable improvement in speech impediments. Most patients will experience a boost to their self-esteem as well! 

What You Need To Know About Surgical Orthodontics

Find your healthiest smile at Christian Manley Orthodontics

Here at Christian Manley Orthodontics, we offer a wide variety of treatment options for patients of all ages in Issaquah, Sammamish, and the surrounding areas. This includes some potential alternatives to surgical orthodontics, like the use of a palatal expander, Herbst appliance, or Invisalign clear aligners with the mandibular advancement feature. 

If you or your child are having any trouble eating, breathing, or swallowing, or have any outwards signs of a misaligned jaw, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a complimentary Manley Smile Assessment. Our expert team will ensure you are fully informed about the best way to straighten your smile, and will be happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.