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Jaw Deformities

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Jaw deformities, also called as dentofacial deformities, are often seen at birth or start appearing as the child grows and become more prominent during puberty. The jaw grows slowing and gradually. In some, the upper, lower or both jaws grow either too much or too little. This causes various problems for the teeth, ability to speak and chew. Let us learn more about the types of jaw deformities in the following paragraphs.

What Are Jaw Deformities?

Jaw deformities or dentofacial deformities are conditions that occur due to the abnormality of the position, size, shape and orientation of the bones of the upper and lower jaw. The upper jaw is called as the maxilla and the lower jaw as the mandible. Jaw deformities can have a severe effect on the physical appearance of the affected person as well as their health. Corrective surgery is often the only solution for the treatment of jaw deformity.

What Causes Jaw Deformities?

Jaw deformities are often caused by a hereditary trait that is common in some families. Other causes include:

  • Jaw injury during childhood that causes fractures of the jawbone that heals improperly
  • Trauma due to an accident
  • Underlying syndromes that affect the growth of the jaw
  • Trauma during forceps delivery in childbirth
  • Excessive or deficiency of growth of the jaw bones

Most of the time, the deformities of the jaw occur in the fetus during development in the womb.

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Symptoms of Jaw Deformities

Jaw deformities can lead to a number of problems such as:

  • Problems speaking, chewing, swallowing and breathing
  • Stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and facial muscles
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Degeneration and jaw clicking problems
  • Improper alignment causes aesthetic and cosmetic problems changing the appearance of the face
  • Underbite or overbite that causes problems with chewing and biting on food
  • Gummy smile, where the upper jaw grows down too far
  • Long face syndrome that causes a longer looking face
  • Toothless smile, where the upper jaw is smaller than the lower jaw

Types of Jaw Deformities

Some of the common types of jaw deformities include:

  • Long maxilla -  The upper jaw is longer than the usual that causes the upper gum line to be exposed more than usual when smiling. This is often referred to as ‘gummy’ smile
  • Macrogenia – The chin appears larger than the other facial features
  • Macrognathia – The underdeveloped chin causes the mandible and the chin to appear smaller and recessed
  • Malocclusion – The improper alignment of the teeth at the two dental arches at occurs when the jaws are closed.
  • Microgenia – The unusually small or deformed chin is called as microgenia.
  • Micrognathia-  The undersized jaw, causing abnormal tooth alignment is called as micrognathia.
  • Short Maxilla – The upper jaw is shorter than normal, that causes the upper teeth to appear invisible during a smile.

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Diagnosis of Jaw Deformities

After conducting a physical examination and noting down the symptoms, the doctor may suggest taking X-rays and CT or MRI scans to determine the type of jaw deformity a patient suffers from. Then, the doctor will evaluate the proportions of the face. He will also check the functional problems along with the abnormalities of the jaw and teeth. Dental problems such as recession of the gums will be noted. Any problems with the air passageway, causing sleep apnea will be evaluated.

Treatment of Jaw Deformities

Surgery is the only way to correct severe jaw deformities. This helps in eliminating or reducing problems related to chewing, biting, breathing as well as speaking. Surgery also helps correct the cosmetic problems of the face and bringing balance to the aesthetics of the face.

Jaw surgery helps in moving part or all of the upper, lower or both jaws in a balanced position. As most of the surgery is carried out in the mouth, external scarring is to a minimum. Wires or rubber bands or even miniature screws will be required to fasten the jaws together, during the process of healing. These corrective surgeries are carried out under general anesthesia. Some of the surgeries performed include:

  • Maxilla osteotomy
  • Mandible osteotomy
  • Sagittal split osteotomy
  • Genioplasty
  • Rapid palatal expansion osteotomy

Jaw surgeries require a healing time of about 2 to 6 weeks and the secondary healing, that is complete bony union and remodelling requires another 2 to 4 months. One should clean the mouth regardless of the surgery, to make sure the risk of infection is minimized and the teeth remain strong and healthy. Jaw deformities can cause a lot of social trauma as well as low-self esteem and self-confidence in the affected person. It also causes many problems while eating, leading to further emotional trauma. Thus, one should seek medical help and try to correct the deformities. However, corrective jaw surgeries are very expensive. Speak to your doctor regarding the surgery options and a social-medical worker regarding any charitable funds available to help one with the financial aspect of the surgery.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 22, 2015