You may have noticed that our doctor specializes in “orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.” While most people have heard of orthodontics, many are confused by the dentofacial orthopedics part of the title.
Every orthodontist starts out in dental school. Upon completion of dental school, some graduates immediately go into practice as dentists. Others choose to pursue a specialty, which requires additional schooling during a two- to three-year residency program. There are nine specialties sanctioned by the American Dental Association. Some you are likely familiar with: pediatric dentistry (dentistry for children), periodontics (dentistry focusing on the gums), and oral surgery.
“Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics” is one of the nine specialties. Essentially, while orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood. Appliances are frequently used — the more familiar braces for orthodontics, and other specialized appliances like headgear and expanders depending on what facial abnormalities are present. Sometimes orthopedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are used at the same time. So if your child gets braces and headgear, he's actually undergoing orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.
Being skilled in both areas, our doctor is able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaw as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Corrective jaw surgery moves your teeth and jaws into positions that are more balanced, functional, and healthy. Whether your needs include improving your bite and function, appearance, or speech, corrective jaw surgery can have a dramatic and positive effect on your outlook on life. We are here to work together with you to help you achieve a beautiful, functional, pain-free smile that will last for the rest of your life.
Who needs corrective jaw surgery?
In some cases, your upper and lower jaws may have grown at different rates. Injuries and birth defects may also affect jaw alignment. While orthodontics can usually correct problems when only the teeth are misaligned, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary to correct misalignment of the jaws. If you suffer from any of the following conditions, you may be an excellent candidate for corrective jaw surgery:
- Difficulty chewing, biting food, or swallowing
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
- Excessive wear of the teeth
- Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
- Unbalanced facial appearance from the front or side
- Facial injury or birth defects
- Receding chin
- Protruding jaw
- Inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
- Sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)
Receiving treatment to correct any of the above conditions is a commitment, not only to your health, but to your happiness as well. While treatment, which may include surgery and orthodontic treatment, may take several years to complete, the results will last a lifetime. There is no reason to live with painful, uncomfortable jaw conditions. Contact our office to learn about the best treatment option for you, your needs, and your smile.
Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a type of orthodontic treatment used to correct severe cases that include bad bites, jaw bone abnormalities, and malocclusion. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine recognized dental specialties, and it focuses on treating complex craniofacial cases that involve the mouth, jaw, face, and skull. If you need surgical orthodontics, your orthodontist will work with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure that you receive the best care possible.
When might surgical orthodontics be needed?
Surgical orthodontics may be used to treat adults with improper bites or other aesthetic concerns. Typically, jaw growth stops by age 16 in females and 18 in males. In order to receive orthognathic surgery, the jaw must be done growing. The need for surgical orthodontics occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly, and a proper bite cannot be achieved with orthodontic treatment alone. Orthognathic surgery will help properly align the jaw, and orthodontic braces will then be used to move the teeth into their proper position.
How do I know if I need orthognathic surgery?
Your orthodontist can tell you if orthognathic surgery is needed as part of your treatment. Depending on the severity of your case and the alignment of your jaw, you may or may not need surgery.
How does orthognathic surgery work?
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery, and the surgery will take place in a hospital. Orthognathic surgery can take several hours depending on each individual case. Once the surgery is complete, you will have about a two-week rest period. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process. After your jaw has healed, your orthodontist will once again “fine-tune” your bite. After surgery, you will have to wear braces, and most braces are removed within six to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.
What are the risks associated with orthognathic surgery?
As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have, and provide you with any additional information. Your comfort is important to us.
What are the rewards of having orthognathic surgery?
For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Whether you need orthodontic treatment to correct a bad bite, malocclusion, or jaw abnormality, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling with confidence for many years to come.
An impacted tooth is a tooth that is blocked or “stuck” underneath the gum line, and does not erupt into its correct position on its own. Most often, an impacted tooth will be a third molar, or wisdom tooth, though it is a common occurrence in canine teeth as well. Canine teeth are located at the corners of the arch, next to the incisors. They have one pointed edge (cusp) which is used for holding, grasping, and tearing food. Because of the canine’s long root, they are very strong, stable teeth. Canines are usually the last teeth to erupt, and usually do so when your child is around the age of 12 or 13.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic examination by the age of seven, which allows us the opportunity to monitor your child’s teeth eruption and detect impactions early.
If your child does develop an impacted canine, a simple surgical procedure is recommended to assist the eruption of the tooth. We will surgically expose the tooth by cutting a small flap in the surrounding gum. After the tooth is exposed, we will either leave the tooth to erupt on its own, or attach an orthodontic bracket to the tooth to help guide its descent.
With early detection and combined surgical and orthodontic treatment, impacted canines can be allowed to erupt and/or be guided to the most ideal position in your child’s mouth.