Surgical Orthodontics

What is surgical orthodontics?

Surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities to improve facial balance and symmetry as well as the patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw, while orthodontics straightens just the teeth. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always performed in conjunction with jaw correction.

Who needs surgical orthodontics?

The majority of patients do not require orthognathic surgery. Whenever possible, Dr. Riekenbrauck, Dr. Ma & Dr. Hergott will avoid surgery for their patients, but will consider it for non-growing adult patients with severely misaligned bites and those with severe facial aesthetic concerns. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. However the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages.

How does surgical orthodontics work?

Shall orthognathic surgery be a consideration, Dr. Riekenbrauck, Dr. Ma or Dr. Hergott will work together with an Oral Surgeon to plan out the surgical jaw movements in conjunction with the tooth movements in order to maximize facial balance. The process begins first with orthodontic treatment to align the teeth, which usually lasts 6-18 months. Once the teeth are in proper position, the second phase orthognathic surgery is performed by the Oral Surgeon. Surgery is performed in the hospital by the Oral Surgeon, and usually takes a couple hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. Upon completion of the surgery, the last phase of treatment is for our Orthodontists to “fine-tune” your teeth to the new jaw position. In most cases, braces are removed within 6 months following surgery.