How Orthognathic Surgery Can Treat Overbite

How Orthognathic Surgery Can Treat Overbite

Modern orthodontic treatment means that most overbites can be successfully treated with braces and orthodontic appliances. The increasing popularity of Phase I orthodontic treatment allows children to begin addressing jaw issues early, while the bones are still developing. Unfortunately, once a person reaches adulthood, options may be more limited and orthognathic surgery may be required to treat a severe overbite.

Why Is Orthognathic Surgery Needed?

An overbite isn’t just an aesthetic concern. Bite issues can impact your ability to breathe unobstructed, sleep soundly, eat properly, speak clearly, and swallow comfortably. When your bite is improper, it may also lead to problems with the temporomandibular joints, leading to TMJ disorder.

There is some degree of controversy in the field of orthodontics over whether and how much the jaw can be corrected in adults, but most experts believe there is a window of time in which the jaw can be corrected by orthodontic braces and devices. Once this window closes, only minimal adjustments can be made, if any, without orthognathic surgery.

Even in younger patients, there may be cases in which orthognathic surgery is the best course of treatment. It’s always best to take a conservative approach to treatment, but sometimes working conservatively doesn’t yield the results we’d hope for.

What Is Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery involves a collaborative treatment plan between your oral surgeon and your orthodontist. The two work together to decide upon the ideal position for the jaw; your surgeon corrects your jaw misalignment and your orthodontist moves your teeth accordingly.

Also known as corrective jaw surgery, the process of getting orthognathic surgery begins in your orthodontist’s office. They will place braces on your teeth to move them to the positions they’ll need to be in after your surgery. In this phase of treatment, your teeth will look worse, not better!

Once the first phase of treatment is complete, your orthodontist will create impressions and take photographs and radiographs of your teeth and jaw so your oral surgeon can create a model to plan your orthognathic surgery. 

The procedure itself can take up to several hours to complete, depending on the complexity of your jaw issues. Your oral surgeon will reposition the jawbones to improve your bite, using surgical plates, wires, screws, or rubber bands to hold them in their new positions. You may only need surgery on the upper jaw (maxillary osteotomy), lower jaw (mandibular osteotomy), or both. Often, all of the incisions required for your surgery are made inside the mouth.

Following orthognathic surgery, you’ll continue to wear braces in order to refine the positions of your teeth. Usually, braces are only needed for another six months or so. After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will provide you with a retainer to prevent orthodontic relapse, which occurs when your teeth shift back to their original positions.

Learn More About Orthognathic Surgery

If you’d like to learn more about whether orthognathic surgery is needed to correct your overbite, contact us today to schedule a consultation at New Jersey Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.C.