What is Surgical Orthodontics?
There are two basic problems associated with attractive, aligned and healthy teeth. One is misaligned teeth; this is in the realm of braces. Teeth can only be moved so far and must be within the limits of the supporting bone structures. When the bone structures are not aligned to allow the upper and lower teeth to function together, surgical orthodontics, also known as jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery, is required.
The sequence for surgical orthodontics is:
Braces in preparation for surgery
The upper and lower teeth must be aligned within their respective jaws as to allow the teeth to fit together at the time of surgery. In other words, the upper teeth are idealized in the upper jaw and the lower teeth are idealized in the lower jaw. The unfortunate aspect of this is the bite will actually be worse leading up to surgery than at the initiation of treatment. This care is provided by Dr. Nelson, who is constantly in communication with the oral surgeon. During this phase, special care must be given to ensure the jaw temporomandibular (TM) joints are healthy and stable. This one step is so important and often the cause of failed surgeries.
The surgery takes place in a hospital setting, usually requiring a two-day hospital stay. The surgery is performed by two oral surgeons. The surgical procedure is usually about four hours long. Following the surgery you are taken to recovery, then transferred to a normal room.
Your Mouth is Not Wired Closed in Modern Orthognathic Surgery
Surgery is not as accurate as a proper bite requires. Following surgery, Dr. Nelson will see you every second day starting 1 week after surgery. In those appointments they will utilize elastics to fine-tune the surgery to achieve the original goal.
Recovery means different things to different people, usually depending on what they do on a daily basis. Most can go back to work after 2 weeks. The primary restriction is that physical exertion must be limited. You will be tired; most patients need short rest periods during the course of a normal day.
The types of food are limited. The first 2-3 weeks are usually mostly liquid; this period is followed by soft foods such as scrambled eggs, etc. Eating restrictions will be slowly reduced for up to 8 weeks. Failure to comply with eating restrictions may result in an incomplete union, resulting in a redo of the surgery.
Should you be deemed a candidate for orthognathic surgery at the initial exam, you will be appointed for additional records. Once the records have been examined, you will be scheduled for an “end of day” consultation appointment with Dr. Nelson. The appointment is scheduled as our last appointment of the day. That will afford you an opportunity for unlimited time to discuss the benefits and risks of surgical orthodontics. Afterward, you will be referred to the surgeon for an initial consultation. Records are all digital and will be available for use by the surgeon, thus reducing the time and expense of duplications.