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Small Lower Jaw

Small Lower Jaw

Introduction

Sometimes also known as, weak chin, micrognathia, or small jaw. It is the 2nd most common complaint among the patients. The first being the protruded lower jaw. Small lower jaw results in backward placement of the teeth bearing segment, jaw, and the chin. There may a gap between the front upper and lower teeth. Usually the upper jaw front teeth recline and in compensation the lower teeth protrude.

The major complains with a small jaw are increased risk of sleep apnea, unaesthetic jaw line and periodontal compromise. There are many reasons for a small lower jaw. Genetically some are pre determined to have a reduced growth of the jaw or there could be a trauma or fall in early childhood resulting in the shunting of the growth center’s of the lower jaw.

               As a teenager or an adult the question to ask is; What are the treatment options for a small lower jaw. This article gives a brief on various treatment options for the small lower jaw. For the sake of discussion lets divide this lower jaw discrepancy as: Only tooth discrepancy, Only chin discrepancy, Full jaw discrepancy. It is obvious that the only tooth discrepancy is more conservative to treat when compared with the full jaw discrepancy.

Only Tooth Discrepancy

Such cases are minor cases of Class 2 bite. In such cases, a camouflage cosmetic realignment can be done. Cosmetic alignment required reshaping of the tooth and then fixing the smile and bite with the help of veneers, crowns, and bridges. These treatments can usually yield results in a matter for few hours. 

Only for younger growing individual orthodontic bite correction can be attempted. Such treatment may take around 18 months. Sometime an extraoral appliance may also be required. A long-term dependence on the orthodontic retainer would be necessary. There is a physical movement of the tooth which is required. There the position of the tooth can be changed but not the shape, size and color.

Only Chin Discrepancy

These cases are more commonly presented for treatment than the only tooth discrepancy. Many of the patients have a similar complaint of weak chin, back chin position or need for a chiseled jaw line, strong chin. Such chin discrepancies may cause the individual to have a low self-esteem. There are various treatment options to correct a small chin discrepancy. A genioplasty surgery is warranty when the chin bone is physically movement into the desirable position and fixed. The genioplasty surgery may require hospitalization and full body general anesthesia. It is usually a day care procedure.

Other treatment alternates include use of a implant, which may be silicone, PMMA, PEEK or titanium based. All implant materials have different properties. The recommended ones are usually PEEK or titanium for there biocompatibility. These implants are usually custom made and can very accurately be placed to give the desired definition of the jaw line and chin. There is a minor increase in the chance of infection, which can be managed by antibiotics and replacement of implants. All the surgery done are by an intraoral cut which would not result in a scare.

Full Jaw Discrepancy

Full jaw discrepancy is a combination of the tooth bearing segment and the chin. There is an increased risk of sleep apnea. The traditional treatment plan in such cases involves a presurgical and post surgical orthodontic phase. This phase is of about 9 months each. The surgical phase which requires a hospitalization for a few days. Usually in these procedures the entire tooth bearing segment with the chin is partially separated from the back portion of the jaw. Then the tooth bearing segment is realigned as per the treatment plan. The jaw is fixed in position and the patient is given a recovery room to rest. There is a downtime of about 1 week. These surgeries may be life altering with improvement in the overall quality of life including sleep apnea, and aesthetics. There are more advanced ways to completing this treatment with the pre and post-surgical preparation. This includes the use of virtual surgical planning and 3D guides.

The above is just a brief overview of the possibilities of treatment with jaw discrepancies. It is of utmost importance to consult with an expert in this field.