What is surgical orthodontics?

Surgical orthodontics is a form of dental surgery to correct severe cases of bad bites and jawbone abnormalities.

In the treatment of dental abnormalities, bad bites (malocclusion) and crooked teeth are usually corrected by an orthodontist. Abnormalities of the jaw are usually corrected by an oral maxillofacial surgeon. When both conditions exist, it is ideal to find an orthodontist and oral surgeon working together. This teamwork approach to complex dentofacial problems is providing better oral health for thousands of adults and children. These thousands are rewarded with straight teeth, bright smiles and facial symmetry – a beauty of shape, form and position.


When is surgical orthodontics required?

The upper and lower jaws are the bones in which the teeth are aligned. When the jaws are too far apart, a proper bite cannot be achieved with braces alone. The orthodontist then embarks upon a treatment plan that sets up for a future surgical intervention. Surgery is the ideal treatment option in these severe cases.

What treatment is used?

Most orthodontic patients undergo an initial period of orthodontic treatment to align the teeth so that they will fit properly after surgery is completed. Surgery usually is not scheduled until the teeth have been properly aligned.

Orthodontic appliances used to align teeth prior to surgery are left in place during the surgical procedure to aid in stabilizing the teeth and jaws. After surgery there is a period of follow-up orthodontic treatment to achieve final alignment of the teeth, thus complementing the new facial symmetry.

Can surgery be avoided?

In younger patients, future facial growth combined with timely orthodontic intervention can sometimes correct protrusions and/or retrusions of the jaws. An orthodontist working with children as young as age 7 can use one of several orthodontic appliances to direct bone growth, thus attempting to eliminate the need for surgery in some patients. However, in adults, the improper tooth/bone relationship is frequently treated with surgery.

Are there any risks?

The portion of surgical orthodontic treatment provided by an oral surgeon entails the usual risks inherent with any type of surgery. However, surgical orthodontic procedures are not new or experimental, they are routinely performed in offices or hospitals on a regular basis. If you or a member of your family are about to undergo surgical orthodontic treatment, simply ask your oral surgeon to explain the risks to set your mind at ease.

What are the rewards?

Following completion of the surgical orthodontic process, dental health is dramatically improved.  The facial bones and profile relationships are also more stable, functional and esthetic. Facial appearance is improved. The most lasting reward is a more beautiful, healthier, and happier you!

What problems does surgical orthodontics best correct?

There are a wide variety of causes of jaw discrepancies including heredity, trauma or other developmental problems. Most commonly corrected problems include: a protruding or retruding chin; an unsightly display of gum tissue above the upper front teeth; an inability to achieve lip contact when the lips are relaxed; and overall elongation of the face.