Orthognathic surgery, sometimes called “Surgical Orthodontics,” is corrective jaw surgery which involves the repositioning of one or both jaws and the accompanying teeth. In conjunction with orthodontic treatment, orthognathic surgery is used to assist in the correction of a malocclusion (bad bite), especially when the malocclusion is severe. Depending upon the extent of the patient’s problem, orthognathic surgery may range in involvement from minor movement of a single part of dental arch to the repositioning of an entire jaw. In some cases, it may include the repositioning of both jaws and the adjoining facial bones.
The goal of the combined approach of orthodontic and orthognathic surgical treatment is the correction of jaw deformities and the establishment of a stable, functional balance among the teeth, jaws, and surrounding facial structures while maintaining or improving the patient’s appearance.
This dual treatment approach is undertaken when orthodontic correction alone would result in an imbalance of the teeth within the jaw bones. The principal advantage of dual treatment is that it allows the teeth within each dental arch to be aligned orthodontically in a stable position with respect to the jaws. Then the jaws can be aligned surgically in a balanced relationship to one another.
When recommended, orthognathic surgery is preformed during the coruse of orthodontic treatment. Therefore, correction of the malocclusion by this combined approach requires teamwork among the general dentist (who is in charge of oral health), the orthodontist, and the oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The orthodontist and the surgeon work in concert, formulating a diagnosis and coordinating treatment as well as post-treatment follow-up.
During treatment, the orthodontist places braces on the teeth and prepares the dental arches for the surgical procedure. This preparation stage last a number of months and involves arrangement of the teeth in a stable relationship within each jaw. Often, as the teeth are being aligned, the underlying jaw imbalance becomes more noticeable. This results in a temporary undesirable change in the patient’s bite. At the appropriate time, the surgical procedure is preformed to bring the jaws into a correct relationship and improve the bite. Then, after healing takes place, final orthodontic tooth movement is completed.