Distraction Osteogenesis, Building up the Jaw

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Jaw SurgerySkeletal defects and deformities in the upper or lower jaw can create both functional and aesthetic concerns. In our office near New Orleans, patients will find the information and treatment options they need from an experienced and reputable facial reconstructive surgeon. Dr. James is not only a board-certified Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, he is also a licensed dentist with specific training and experience in treating genetic defects of the face and jaw. His expertise in this area makes him a sought-after resource for treatments such as distraction osteogenesis.

Let’s look at a few of the details of this process.

Distraction osteogenesis is more of a process than a procedure. However, the onset of care does involve a short, outpatient surgery. The term “distraction osteogenesis” describes progressive movement of two parts of a bone. Initially, this technique was used to lengthen bones in the leg. As the technique has advanced, trained surgeons are now able to instigate the natural growth of bone in the jaw. The procedure itself is minimally invasive, and there are no external scars to speak of.

We can understand the stress related to jaw surgery of any kind. But to have a prosthesis inserted into the jaw to force its growth? No matter how gentle the movement, this can sound downright frightening. The insertion of the device is performed under general anesthesia, so patients feel nothing. Post-operatively, prescription pain-reducing medication supports a comfortable recovery. After the initial healing, the distraction device poses a sensation that is described as having braces tightened, so pain is only a minor concern. Really, it’s more of a subtle discomfort.

Why would a parent, or an adult patient, want to undergo this surgery? As invasive as it may sound, distraction osteogenesis is actually more conservative than other methods of building up bone, such as bone grafting. To graft bone, tissue must be taken from a secondary site. This means additional incisions and wound-closure. The bone harvested from the secondary site is inserted into the jaw, where it integrates with existing bone to form strong new structure. Distraction osteogenesis is an alternative way to prepare the adult patient for dental implants, or to restructure a jaw deformity in a patient of any age.

You have options for treatment that will enhance aesthetics and functional performance. Call (504) 378-2030 for an appointment at The Cleft & Facial Cosmetic Surgery Center.

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