Maxillary hypoplasia is an underdevelopment of the bones in the upper jaw. This condition can give the middle of the face a sunken appearance, and makes the lower jaw look like it is protruding even if it is anatomically normal. Corrective surgery is available to reposition the upper jaw in order to address the aesthetic and medical concerns associated with maxillary hypoplasia. It can be performed early in childhood to allow the jaw ample time to recover and develop as a child matures.
Some people have this condition because of a genetic disorder or developmental anomaly; for example, it can be associated with cleft lip and palate. Others may develop acquired maxillary hypoplasia, usually as a result of poorly planned dental extractions. If teeth are removed from the upper jaw, it may fail to develop, and could become sunken over time. A full evaluation can determine the cause, which may help a doctor identify other medical issues that might need attention.
One concern with this condition is aesthetic. The sunken appearance of the jaw may attract unwanted attention and can make a patient feel uncomfortable. In addition, it can make it hard to eat, and may cause problems in the future for the patient. For both of these reasons, surgery may be recommended to correct the disorder. This needs to be performed in consultation with an orthodontist who can work on repositioning the teeth in the mouth.
Surgical techniques to treat maxillary hypoplasia can vary, depending on the specifics of the case. Medical imaging can help the surgeon plan by illustrating the specific areas of underdevelopment and providing information about the anatomy of the patient’s upper jaw. Using these data, the surgeon can make a plan to reposition the jaw, add support to help it heal, and work with an orthodontist to move and straighten the teeth, if necessary. Other issues like a cleft lip can also be addressed, if they haven’t already been treated.
Recovery from surgery to treat maxillary hypoplasia can very in length depending on the extent of the surgery. Patients may need to eat soft foods for several days or weeks while their jaws recover, and will usually need regular checkups to monitor the surgical site for signs of infection, bone displacement, and other issues. Surgeons use careful planning to minimize scarring so the signs of surgery will be minimally visible, but a revision surgery may be necessary in some cases.