Jaw & Improper Bite
The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon is uniquely trained to correct patients with ‘bad bites’. In many cases, a bad bite can be corrected with orthodontic management, or with ‘braces’. Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is another specialty of dentistry that is trained to correct bad bites with braces, or to work together with the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons to correct more severe cases that are often described as dentofacial deformities. Such deformities may include an excessive chin, or lack of chin, severe ‘buck teeth’ or excessively ‘gummy’ smiles. In all cases, the Orthodontist and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon will work as a team to diagnose the nature of the problems, and then co-ordinate a plan of treatment.
Surgical procedures can involve the upper and/or lower jaw and chin. The bones can be moved around in many directions so as to create a stable and functional bite, as well as improved facial appearance. These procedures are generally completed in the hospital environment under general anaesthesia so the patient is comfortable. Some smaller procedures, such as those involving only the chin, can be completed as an out-patient in the surgeon’s office. While full recovery from many of these procedures may take a few weeks, the end result can be truly life changing, and most patients forget the recovery period once treatment is complete!
In most cases of dentofacial deformity there will be a requirement for orthodontic treatment prior to any surgical care. This period of preparation can last up to a year or more. Once the surgical treatment has been provided, the braces will remain in place so that ‘fine tuning’ of the bite can be completed. In general, most combined surgical-orthodontic cases will take up to two years to complete.
Many Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and Orthodontists will use computer software to assist in the diagnosing and planning of dentofacial deformities. These software packages allow them to enter photographs and x-rays of patients, and then ‘virtually’ plan your surgery. In doing so, you may be able to obtain an idea of what your bite and appearance will look like once the journey is complete. Both the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Orthodontist receive extensive training and exposure to such cases, and are uniquely qualified to provide such advanced care.