What is surgical orthodontics?
Orthodontics involves repositioning teeth to make them fit together properly, similarly surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities to improve the patient's ability to chew, speak, breathe and facial esthetics. In other words, surgical orthodontics straightens your jaw. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always performed in conjunction with jaw correction. This ensures that teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
The teeth are supported by the upper and lower jaws. Sometimes, when the jaws are too short or too long, too wide or too narrow, braces alone cannot completely correct a bad bite. Discrepancy in jaw coordination also effect facial symmetry and in turn affects facial esthetics. In addition to affecting a person's appearance, an improper bite can lead to problems, such as abnormal tooth wear, periodontal (gum) disease, and possible joint pain. Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment if any of the above factors exist. Surgical orthodontics is sometimes the only corrective solution for non-growing adult patients with improper bites and facial esthetic 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 orthodontic tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to completion of growth.
What Problems Do Orthodontics and Surgery Best Correct?
- A protrusive upper or lower jaw (one that sticks out too far)
- A retrusive upper or lower jaw (one that is positioned too far back)
- A retruding chin (one that is too far back)
- A narrow upper jaw
- An unsightly display of gum tissue above the upper front teeth
- An inability to achieve lip contact when the lips are relaxed
- An elongated facial appearance
- Facial asymmetry (chin/lower jaw not centred in the face)
- Cleft palate (in young children)
How does it work?
It all starts with an initial phase (pre-surgery phase) of orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 6-18 months, you wear braces/Invisalign and will visit Dr. Nizam for scheduled adjustments. As your teeth move in this pre-surgery phase, you may think that your bite is getting worse rather than better. However, when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during surgery, the teeth will then fit into their proper positions.
Once the teeth are properly aligned, surgery is performed in the hospital by an oral surgeon. The braces are left in place during the surgical procedure to help stabilize the teeth and jaws. When the surgery is complete, you should be able to return to school or work within one-two weeks. After the necessary healing period of 4-8 weeks, Dr. Nizam will "fine-tune" your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6-12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.
Does Alberta Health Pay For the Jaw Surgery?
Alberta health will cover the surgical procedure fee such as, your hospital stay, operating room cost, etc. The orthodontic fee and the oral surgeons fee is not covered by Alberta Health.