As per the recommendations of both the American and Canadian Associations of Orthodontics, most orthodontists, myself included, like to see children by no later than 7 years of age. This allows us to follow children over their formative years to ensure proper jaw development amongst other things. Only Certified Orthodontists have the proper training and experience to treat all jaw related discrepancies.
Though most malocclusions (bad bites) can be treated with braces or Invisalign alone (especially when diagnosed early), sometimes more help is needed. Patients with severe malocclusions or poor growth sometimes also need orthognathic surgery, otherwise know as jaw surgery. Jaw surgery can involve one or both jaws. It is always done in a hospital setting, and performed by an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons (or oral and maxilla-facial surgeons) are dentists who spend an additional 4 or 5 years of training to specialize in various surgeries for the teeth, jaws and face.
Some examples of bad bites for which surgery is required include severe overbites (top teeth and jaw too far forward) or underbites (bottom teeth and jaw too far forward), like Jay Leno for instance. Another very common reason for surgery these days is to help patients who suffer from sleep apnea. Advancing the jaws into a better position (away from the airways) creates better airflow from the nose and the mouth, which in turn can get rid of sleep apnea.
No matter why surgery is needed, the end result for the patient is not only straight teeth, but stable, well-aligned and functional teeth and jaws. Usually, this also creates a significant improvement to the patient’s facial balance and beauty. In cases like sleep apnea, surgery can also improve quality of life and overall health. Even though surgery is a major undertaking, it creates life-altering positive results for patients.
If you or any of your family members have been told you need surgery, fear not! We work with a number of outstanding oral surgeons who will take excellent care of you! We will be happy to see you for a complimentary consultation to assess your needs and to give you options (both with and without surgery) and to get you on your way to your new smile!
Dr. Pourang Rahimi