If you had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a child, there's a strong likelihood that you have a misaligned or under-developed lower jaw. This can make it difficult to open and close your mouth, cause pain in the temporomandibular joint, or even cause ear problems. If you're experiencing these problems, you may be glad to know that there's a minimal surgical procedure that can help to fix the problem. This guide will explain the procedure, how it helps, and what you can expect.
For children and adults alike, the only way to treat this disorder in the past was to cut the jaw bone and realign it with a titanium or stainless steel plate holding it in place. This procedure had a long recovery time and could be quite painful. It also typically involved wiring the jaw shut while the bone healed, which meant being restricted to a liquid diet the entire time and making it difficult to communicate while recovering.
The New Way
Distraction osteogenesis is the new and less invasive way of achieving the same result. An oral surgeon will create an incision in the bone called a corticotomy, then connect an extraoral device to it. This device slips into the small incision in the bone, and has an external adjustment device attached to it.
How It Works
Once the device is installed, the patient can immediately go home and go about their daily lives. The use of the device will differ from person to person depending on your personal needs, and your oral surgeon will brief you on how to use it.
The device is designed to slowly separate the bone over weeks instead of all at once during surgery. It will be designed with preset levels of adjustment, usually ranging from 0.5 to 1 mm. All you have to do is slide the device forward one click per day. This process is generally painless, since it's so gradual. Once the adjustment period is complete, the bone will gradually heal, allowing the body to use its own resources instead of having an artificial plate installed to hold the bone in place.
Correcting a misaligned or under developed jaw with distraction osteogenesis can reduce joint discomfort, improve the symmetry of your jawline, and reduce wear and tear on your teeth. It's less painful and lacks the downtime of a traditional surgical correction, too, so you won't have to spend weeks or months recovering. For more information, contact a professional like Wyoming Dental Specialties.