Surgical orthodontics corrects jaw abnormalities to improve chewing, breathing and speaking. It may also enhance a child's appearance. Your orthodontist works closely with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to make sure your child receives the best treatment available.
In both types of surgery, the oral surgeon may add or remove bones as necessary for alignment and stability. He may also reposition or augment other facial bones as necessary.
If your adolescent child has a misaligned jaw or teeth, she may need surgical orthodontics. Signs of misalignment include trouble chewing, worn teeth, a protruding jaw or a receding chin. Your child may also have a condition such as sleep apnea that can be relieved with corrective surgery. Your child's jaw development must be complete prior to surgery. This is usually at age 16 in girls and 18 in boys. Orthodontics including braces are often implemented before any surgery.
Orthodontic treatments can range from 6 months to 18 months or more. During that time, the orthodontist will schedule regular adjustments to your child's braces.
The surgery itself takes place in a hospital. Your child's orthodontist will work closely with the oral surgeon who will perform the procedure. Depending on the type of correction needed, the surgery may last a few to several hours.