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Orthodontic Retainers and Orthognathic Surgery: Their Relationship

April 11, 2024

Orthodontic treatment often involves a combination of braces, aligners, and retainers to correct dental misalignment and achieve optimal bite function. In some cases, orthognathic surgery, also known as jaw surgery, may be recommended to address more severe skeletal discrepancies. In this article, we'll explore the relationship between orthodontic retainers and orthognathic surgery, highlighting their complementary roles in comprehensive orthodontic treatment.

1. Pre-Surgical Orthodontic Preparation:

Before undergoing orthognathic surgery, patients typically undergo pre-surgical orthodontic treatment to align the teeth and prepare the jaw for surgery. Orthodontic braces or aligners are used to move the teeth into the correct position, creating a stable foundation for surgical correction of skeletal discrepancies.

2. Stabilization with Retainers:

Following pre-surgical orthodontic treatment and orthognathic surgery, orthodontic retainers play a crucial role in stabilizing the teeth and maintaining the new bite relationship achieved through surgery. Retainers help prevent relapse and ensure long-term stability of the surgical results by holding the teeth in their corrected positions as the jaw heals.

3. Types of Retainers Used:

Several types of retainers may be used before and after orthognathic surgery, including:

  • Hawley Retainers: These traditional wire-and-acrylic retainers are custom-made to fit the roof of the mouth and hold the teeth in place with adjustable metal wires.

  • Clear Retainers: Clear, removable retainers, such as Essix retainers, are transparent trays that fit snugly over the teeth and provide discreet retention after orthodontic treatment and surgery.

  • Bonded Retainers: Also known as permanent retainers, bonded lingual retainers are thin wires bonded to the back surfaces of the teeth to provide continuous support and stabilization, particularly in the lower front teeth area.

4. Long-Term Stability and Maintenance:

Orthodontic retainers are essential for maintaining the stability of orthognathic surgery results over the long term. Patients are typically advised to wear their retainers as directed by their orthodontist, which may involve full-time wear initially, followed by nighttime wear for an extended period to ensure optimal retention and stability.

5. Collaboration Between Orthodontist and Oral Surgeon:

Successful treatment outcomes with orthognathic surgery require close collaboration between the orthodontist and oral surgeon. The orthodontist plans the pre-surgical and post-surgical orthodontic treatment to achieve optimal tooth alignment and bite relationship, while the oral surgeon performs the surgical correction of skeletal discrepancies.

6. Patient Compliance and Follow-Up:

Patient compliance with retainer wear and follow-up appointments is crucial for maintaining the results of orthognathic surgery. Orthodontic patients should adhere to their orthodontist's recommendations for retainer wear and attend regular follow-up appointments to monitor the stability of the surgical results and address any issues promptly.

Orthodontic retainers play a vital role in the success of orthognathic surgery by stabilizing the teeth and maintaining the new bite relationship achieved through surgical correction of skeletal discrepancies. By working closely with their orthodontist and oral surgeon and following recommended treatment protocols, patients can achieve optimal outcomes and enjoy the long-term stability of orthognathic surgery results. Orthodontic treatment and orthognathic surgery together offer comprehensive solutions for correcting dental and skeletal discrepancies and achieving a healthy, functional, and aesthetically pleasing smile.