Dentofacial Orthopedics and Surgical Orthodontics

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Dentofacial Orthopedics

While the focus of orthodontic treatment is to correct crooked teeth and bad bites, dentofacial orthopedics guides facial growth and development to enhance facial proportions with functional orthopedic appliances.

For example, if jawbone structures are developing too small, resulting in crowding or the lower jaw is underdeveloped causing an overbite, appropriate wear of functional orthopedic appliances can greatly improve alignment of jaw structures. This will create a balanced facial profile without the removal of permanent teeth.

In some cases, orthopedic treatment is initiated before braces are placed. However, orthodontic and orthopedic treatment can occur at the same time. The time to start dentofacial orthopedic treatment will depend on the nature and severity of the malocclusion. Generally, dentofacial orthopedic treatment, if necessary, begins at age 10 for overbite correction and 8 for underbites and typically lasts from six to twelve months.

Surgical Orthodontics

Surgical orthodontic treatment (also known as corrective jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery) corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, specifically the jaw. Often these abnormalities alter esthetic facial proportions and may cause difficulty with chewing, talking, breathing, sleeping and other routine activities. Surgical orthodontic treatment corrects these problems, and in conjunction with wearing braces, will improve the overall appearance of your smile and facial proportions. Both the jaw and teeth alignments will be corrected.

Typically, adult patients who are finished growing and have facial esthetic concerns about their malocclusion are good candidates for surgical orthodontic treatment. For girls, jaw growth is usually completed by age 16, and for boys by age 18. In order for surgical orthodontic treatment to be effective, patients must be finished growing as a growth spurt can affect the results of the surgery. Teeth straightening, however, can be completed in the years beforehand.

When undergoing orthodontic treatment, your teeth will be moved into their proper corrected positions by braces or "invisalign". As your teeth move, it may seem as though your bite is getting worse rather than improving. When this occurs it will only be temporary because once your jaw is properly aligned with surgical orthodontic treatment, your teeth will be in their perfect positions.