Craniofacial Orthodontics

Craniofacial orthodontics is a sub-specialty of orthodontics that involves the artificial rehabilitation of patients who have suffered disabilities and defects to the head or neck region as a result of deformities at birth, battles with disease or traumatic accidents. Congenital and developmental mouth defects include:

  • Cleft Lip – An opening in the lip due to incomplete development in the early stages of pregnancy.
  • Cleft Palate – An opening in the roof of the mouth due to incomplete development in the early stages of pregnancy. 
  • Hypodontia – One or more missing teeth.
  • Hyperdontia – Extra (supernumerary) teeth.

Whether a deformity is congenital, acquired or developed, maxillofacial treatment offers life-altering physical, cosmetic and psychosocial benefits.

Craniofacial orthodontics uniquely combines various disciplines within the medical community, including orthodontics, dentistry, head and neck oncology, speech therapy, congenital malformation reconstruction, plastic surgery, etc. for optimal results for each patient. Our extensive training in orthodontic and dentofacial alignment means we are particularly suited to deliver patients with cleft lips and palates with an end result with which they will be happy.

Please contact our office(link to CONTACT US) with any additional questions you may have about craniofacial orthodontics. You can also find more information on the website of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA).

Who is a candidate for surgical orthodontic treatment?

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

What does surgical orthodontic treatment entail?

When undergoing orthodontic treatment, your teeth will be moved into their corrected positions by braces. As your teeth move, it may seem as though your bite is getting worse rather than improving. This is likely not the case because once your jaw is properly aligned with surgical orthodontic treatment, your teeth will be in their perfect positions.

An oral surgeon will perform the orthognathic surgery in a hospital. The surgery can last for several hours depending on the severity of your situation. Typically with the lower jaw, the bone directly behind the teeth is separated, and the portion of the jaw with teeth is either moved forward or backward. With upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be moved in four directions: forward, backward, lifted or lowered. With this surgery, bone is usually added or removed to help accommodate the moving of the jaw. Other facial bones may also be altered or shifted to complete the facial alignment.

After surgery, you can return to school or work after only two weeks. You will need approximately four to eight weeks for healing, and after the healing period, your orthodontist will tweak your bite. If you have braces, they are typically removed within six months to a year after the surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear your retainer for the prescribed amount of time.