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Maxillary Deformities

Maxillary deformities are deformities of the upper jaw. In most people, they occur when the maxilla grows at a different rate than the maxilla and the rest of the face during childhood and adolescence. This can result in an upper 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). Maxillary deformities can range from being very mild to being very severe.

Maxillary deformities related to too much or too little growth are very frequent. One of the most common is called "vertical maxillary excess, " which means that the upper jaw has grown too much. The face appears long, and patients have a "gummy" smile. Cleft lip and palate can interfere with the normal development of the upper jaw. Other diseases, like hemifacial microsomia or Goldenhar Syndrome, often cause the bones of the face to develop asymmetrically. Sometimes, deformities can develop after accidents or traumas to the face or jaws.

Symptoms

An incorrectly proportioned upper jaw creates an imbalance in the lower half of the face. If the upper and lower 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.

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

Maxillary deformities can usually be corrected with orthodontic procedures, orthognathic surgery, or a combination of the two. 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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