In our society, we are judged unfortunately on our appearance rather than our strength of character or true ability. A glance at the matrimonial column in a newspaper has wordings such as "beautiful, fair, good-looking, and handsome". Marriages and interviews are based largely on how you look. Facial deformity is a major cause for marriages being stopped and also losing out in job interviews- just ask someone who has a facial deformity like cleft lip and palate. Facial deformity is very hard to hide unlike having a deformity in the hand or leg.
A major cause for facial deformity is crooked teeth and in some severe cases even the entire jaw may be crooked and need correction. The branch which deals with straightening crooked teeth is called orthodontics ( clips/ braces for teeth and is done by a Specialist Orthodontist) and the branch which deals with straightening crooked jaws is orthognathic surgery (corrective jaw surgery) and is performed by a specialist Maxillofacial Surgeon.
There are basically 3 main types of treatment options for patients with facial deformity and crooked teeth:
- Removable and functional appliances
- Fixed appliances
- Orthognathic ( corrective jaw) surgery
These are appliances that can be removed by you and cleaned. They are relatively inexpensive. They are used only for minor movements of teeth. Functional appliances are slightly more complex than simple removable appliances and use the power of your muscles and growth to produce changes in your teeth.
These are the most commonly used type of appliance . They are fixed to the teeth and can be used to perform complex movements of the teeth.They are generally more expensive but can produce movements that are usually not possible with removable appliances. Orthodontic treatment usually takes between 6 months to 3 years based on the complexity of treatment that you need. You will need monthly checkups during this period to adjust the appliances that you are wearing and also to monitor your progress.
There is usually no pain involved in orthodontic treatment though you may need to have some teeth removed prior to commencement of your orthodontic treatment (for example to create space between your teeth in case of severe crowding). Treatment also cannot be done on decaying teeth and therefore you may need fillings and tooth scaling and polishing before and during your treatment.
In certain patients the deformity may not be confined to only the teeth but affect the jaws (underlying bone) as well. Trying to correct a skeletal (bone) problem with just orthodontics alone will result in a less than ideal result. Therefore it is vital that both an Orthodontist and a Maxillofacial Surgeon see you and then decide on the best possible course of treatment for you.
Small abnormalities can be corrected with Orthodontics alone (using fixed and removable appliances). More serious problems require corrective surgery together with Orthodontics to move all or part of the upper jaw, lower jaw or both into a more normal position. In these cases the patient will need both Orthodontics and Orthognathic surgery (Corrective jaw surgery) to correct the bone as well as the teeth.
Treatment usually involves orthodontic treatment followed by surgery and then some final orthodontics. Surgery is undertaken under general anaesthesia. The operation may take from one hour in simple procedures to several hours with more complicated surgical procedures. Surgery is usually done from inside the mouth leaving no visible external scars. Your stay in the hospital will vary from 2-7 days based on the type of operation you had and also on how quickly you recover.
Orthognathic surgery is now an extremely safe procedure in experienced hands and this expertise is now available in our centre.