Jaw Deformities

(see also congenital deformities)

What is it?

A jaw deformity can involve the upper jaw, lower jaw, chin, or some combination of these. There are a variety of jaw deformities. Some of the most common are:

  • Vertical maxillary excess or "long maxilla." These children have excess bone in the upper jaw making them appear to have a long face and gummy smile.
  • Macrogenia. A large chin out of proportion to facial features.
  • Micrognathia. A small, underdeveloped jaw.
  • Malocclusion. Improper teeth alignment leading to an overbite, underbite or crossbite. Many children have some degree of malocclusion, but sometimes the problem is so severe it affects a child's ability to speak, eat, and maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Short maxilla. This involves a short upper jaw, which can cause malocclusion.

What are they caused by?

Some jaw conditions are caused by underlying conditions, such as hemifacial microsomia or Goldenhar syndrome. Others are caused by trauma to the jaw. Sometimes, no cause is known.

How are they treated?

The type of medical treatment and surgery will depend on the type of jaw deformity and your child's unique experience with it. Some jaw deformities cause significant issues with eating, speaking, hygiene, and appearance while others do not. The medical team can work with you to help make the best decision for your child and family.

The pioneering jaw surgery called, mandible distraction osteogenesis, is an appropriate choice for some children. More of these surgeries have been performed at Children's than anywhere else in the world. This less invasive surgery can help reduce pain and recovery time and involves a device implanted in the jaw, which gradually repositions the facial bones. The surgery may be appropriate for those with very small lower jaws that cause breathing and sleeping difficulties.

About surgery for jaw deformities at Children's

The ENT surgery team at Children's provides next-generation care to neonatal infants, newborns, children, and adolescents from throughout the Upper Midwest. This multidisciplinary team provides some of the most cutting-edge, delicate treatments available, including newborn surgery and minimally invasive surgery. Otolaryngology surgery is performed at Children's - Minneapolis, Children's - St. Paul, and Children's West.

If you are a family member looking for a Children's ENT specialist, visit Find a Doctor.

If you are a health professional looking for a consultation or referral information, please call Children's Physician Referral at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free).

Return to Children's ENT surgery home page.