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Mandibular Deformities

Mandibular deformities are deformities of the lower jaw. In most people, they occur when the mandible grows at a different rate than the maxilla and the rest of the face during childhood and adolescence. This can result in a lower jaw that is either too large for the face (if it grows excessively) or too small for the face (if there is a growth deficiency). Mandibular deformities can range from being very mild to being very severe.

In addition to development- and growth- related mandibular abnormalities, some congenital conditions, diseases, or traumas can cause mandibular deformities.

Symptoms

An incorrectly proportioned lower jaw creates an imbalance in the lower half of the face. If the lower and upper jaws are improperly aligned, the teeth do not come together properly, creating an underbite, an overbite, or other malocclusions. This can lead to difficulties with jaw function such as chewing or breathing, and can also have aesthetic implications. An abnormally small lower jaw can also cause snoring and sleep apnea, a condition characterized by interruptions of breathing during sleep.

Diagnosis

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon conducts a detailed examination to diagnose the nature and severity of the problem. The surgeon assesses the relationship between the patient's facial features and may use plastic models or computers to determine what kinds of surgical changes would correct the deformity.

Treatment

Mandibular deformities can usually be corrected with orthodontic procedures, orthognathic surgery, or a combination of the two. Genioplasty (reshaping the chin) can also be a part of treatment, and sometimes, adjustments to both the mandible and the maxilla are necessary. In more severe cases, more extensive reconstructive maxillofacial surgery may be required.

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