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Maxillofacial Deformities


Maxillofacial deformities are irregularities or malformations in the bones and/or soft tissues of the jaws and lower part of the face. The can have a very wide range of causes. They can arise from congenital conditions such as cleft lip and palate, or can be the immediate or long-term outcome of a trauma such as a car accident, or a disease such as cancer. More routinely, maxillofacial deformities are very often growth-related. Uneven growth of the upper and lower jaws can lead to either or both jaws being over- or under-developed. This can disturb their normal alignment.

Maxillofacial deformities can range from mild to severe, and can have functional or aesthetic effects, or both. The functional problems caused by maxillofacial deformities include difficulties in chewing, talking, or breathing, malocclusion (bad bite), sinus problems, and temperomandibular joint pain.

Recent advances in reconstructive and orthognathic surgical techniques have improved functional and cosmetic outcome for relatively simple as well as more complex surgical corrections of maxillofacial deformities.

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

Severe acute deformities that involve gross malformations of the face are usually due to a congenital condition, disease or trauma. These deformities are usually corrected with reconstructive maxillofacial surgery. In contrast, growth-related maxillofacial deformities are usually corrected with more routine orthognathic surgery. While the two kinds of surgeries use similar procedures, they tend to differ in complexity.

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