Although many problems may be treated with braces alone, for some people, braces alone cannot fix the problem. In cases where the upper and lower jaws are positioned very differently from one another, people may experience difficulty with chewing, talking or sleeping. Many times, patients with these types of functional problems will have underbites, large overbites, openbites, or crossbites. The jaw disharmony can be resolved by having an oral surgeon move the jaws into a more harmonious position with a procedure called “orthognathic surgery.” Braces are usually required, with the surgery taking place in the middle of treatment.
Before surgery, braces are used to align the teeth so that when the jaws are moved, the teeth will fit together. Braces continue after surgery to fine-tune the result. Typically the process of braces with orthognathic surgery takes the same amount of time as non-surgical braces treatment. Orthognathic surgery is best suited for patients with facial appearance problems in addition to their bite problems. For example, a very prominent lower jaw and underbite can be corrected surgically to a more attractive facial appearance and smile. An orthodontist can advise you whether your bite may be corrected with braces alone, or if further improvements may be gained from orthognathic surgery as well.
Dr. Shuman is a Board Certified Orthodontist practicing in Portland, Maine. Read more about Dr. Shuman or visit his orthodontic practice online at www.stegemannandshuman.com.