Orthodontics focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The primary goal of orthodontic treatment is to correct teeth misalignment and jaw positioning to improve occlusion, or the way teeth fit together when biting or chewing.
In some severe cases of malocclusion, orthodontic treatment alone may not be enough to correct the problem. In these cases, a combination of orthodontic treatment and jaw surgery may be necessary to achieve optimal results.
Orthodontists work closely with oral and maxillofacial surgeons to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both dental and craniofacial issues.
The craniofacial structure refers to the bones and soft tissues of the head and face, like the skull, facial bones, and muscles. A properly aligned craniofacial structure is important for correct oral function, breathing, speech, and overall facial aesthetics.
If you have dental issues and irregularities, it’s mandatory to seek the advice of an orthodontist. Early intervention can help prevent more serious problems in the future, as well as pain and headaches due to improper jaw positioning.
Orthodontic treatment can help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile and better overall oral function. Despite the involvement of the word “surgery,” you should not fear these types of procedures since the recovery is fairly rapid.
What Is Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions affecting the head, neck, face, jaws, and oral cavity.
It is a surgical specialty that combines expertise in both dentistry and medicine to address a wide range of conditions, including facial trauma, jaw disorders, and other conditions that require surgical intervention.
When do you need this type of surgery? Oral and maxillofacial surgery can correct orthodontic issues, such as malocclusion or misaligned teeth and jaws. If the patient’s condition is severe or complex, the orthodontist may refer the patient to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in cases where ambulatory alternatives can’t solve the problem.
Skeletal discrepancies that cause bite problems or facial asymmetry, such as deep underbites, call for orthognathic surgery, also known as corrective jaw surgery. This surgery involves repositioning the jawbones to achieve proper alignment and balance in the facial structure. Specialists also recommend orthognathic surgery to correct breathing problems or alleviate sleep apnea.
What Is Orthognathic Surgery?
Orthognathic surgery is usually a complex procedure that implies careful planning and collaboration between an orthodontist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon necessary for patients with significant skeletal discrepancies for which orthodontic treatment alone is not enough.
It’s important to mention that not all oral surgeons are maxillofacial surgeons. This explains why patients need an examination from each specialist separately. If you need help from an oral surgeon, your orthodontist will send you to them.
The surgery is often performed under general anesthesia and may require a hospital stay of a day or two. However, most cases do not require a hospital stay at all.
After the surgery, patients may require several weeks of recovery time and may need to follow a specific diet and exercise regimen to aid in the healing process.
There are many types of orthognathic surgery, and each focuses on specific problems, body parts, and functions.
Types of Orthognathic Surgery
- Maxillary osteotomy – involves moving the upper jaw to correct an overbite or underbite.
- Mandibular osteotomy – involves moving the lower jaw to treat moderate overbites or underbites.
- Genioplasty – means reshaping the chin to improve facial symmetry or correct a weak or prominent chin.
- Bimaxillary osteotomy – involves moving both the upper and the lower jaws to treat significant malocclusion.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that affects the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. It is responsible for nothing less than allowing us to open and close our mouths, chew, speak, and even yawn.
The TMJ locates on either side of the head, just in front of the ears, and connects the jawbone to the skull.
TMJ disorder can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw and surrounding muscles, as well as difficulty with jaw movement.
The exact cause of TMJ disorder is often a mystery, but some experts link it to factors like jaw injury, arthritis, teeth grinding, and stress.
Symptoms of TMJ can vary, but the following are usual:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint or surrounding muscles.
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth.
- Clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth or when yawning.
- Aching pain in or around the ear.
- Headaches or neck pain.
- Difficulty chewing or biting.
- Swelling on one or both sides of the face.
Access TMJ-TMD treatment, Portland. Living in discomfort is not something you deserve!
How Do I Know If I Have TMJ?
Diagnosis of temporomandibular disorder often involves a physical examination of the jaw joint, as well as imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans.
The treatment options may include lifestyle modifications like stress reduction techniques, avoiding hard or chewy foods, and practicing good posture.
In some cases, doctors indicate a dental splint or orthotic device to help with jaw alignment and reduce discomfort. Not every patient requires surgery, but in severe cases, it may be necessary.
What Is TMJ Surgery?
TMJ surgery may involve different techniques depending on the specific case and the severity of the condition. Some of the most common types of TMJ surgery include:
- Arthrocentesis: In this procedure, your surgeon will insert needles into the joint to irrigate the area and remove debris.
- Arthroscopy: You will have a small camera into the joint to visualize the area and make repairs as necessary.
- Open-joint surgery: This involves making an incision in the skin to access the joint and fix it.
The goal of TMJ surgery is to improve the alignment and function of the jaw joint, reduce pain and discomfort, and improve quality of life.
Recovery time and postoperative care will vary depending on the specific procedure performed, but patients can expect some level of discomfort and swelling for several days to weeks after surgery. The indications for TMJ surgery recovery are similar to the ones you get when you have wisdom teeth extraction.
Orthodontists may work closely with oral and maxillofacial surgeons to provide a comprehensive approach to treating TMD.
Before your doctor recommends surgery, you will undergo a thorough evaluation to determine if surgery is necessary and what specific type of surgery is most appropriate for your condition.
How Do Oral Surgeons and Orthodontists Differ?
Oral surgeons and orthodontists are both dental professionals, but their areas of expertise and the types of procedures they perform are very different.
Orthodontists specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. They use various tools and appliances, such as traditional braces, clear aligners, and retainers, to straighten teeth.
Oral surgeons are dental specialists who focus on performing surgery in the oral cavity, including the teeth, gums, and jaw. They can conduct procedures such as tooth extractions, dental implant placement, and corrective jaw surgery.
Oral surgeons also treat health conditions such as facial injuries, cysts, and tumors.
Orthodontists ought to complete four years of dental school plus two or three years of specialized training in orthodontics. Oral surgeons, on the other hand, complete four years of dental school plus four or five years of residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
So, orthodontists focus on correcting dental and facial irregularities using non-surgical methods, while oral surgeons specialize in performing surgical procedures in and around the mouth.
Who Treats TMJ – TMJ Orthodontist
Not all dental clinics offer TMJ care or treatment since it requires special attention. The city of Portland has Hillsdale Orthodontics, where you can find several treatment alternatives to your joint issue.
Braces and surgical orthodontics are also part of the list of services. Make an appointment to have your first consultation.