Tania Case Study
Retrognathic Jaw

Female youth treated for retrognathic mandible using Herbst appliance and braces.

Tania is a female youth patient treated at our Oxnard location. Tania was diagnosed as having a retrognathic mandible. In simple terms, this means that the patient’s lower jaw is too short. This case was an excellent example of how early orthodontic evaluations and early orthodontic treatment can help solve complicated orthodontic conditions that would otherwise require complex treatments and procedures if left unresolved past adolescence or into early adulthood.

Malleable Jaw and Facial Structure in Youth Patients

During childhood and through adolescence, a person’s facial structure and jaw is developing and growing. During this growth period, bones are malleable and their growth can be controlled by an orthodontist using sophisticated techniques. This relates directly to Tania’s case because while she had a lower jaw that was too short, the fact that her jaw and facial structure was not yet fully developed meant that an Herbst appliance could be used to accelerate the growth of her lower jaw so that it could form into proportion with the rest of her facial structure. In an older teenager or young adult, the jaw would be fully developed, and if a fully developed lower jaw is retrognathic and too short in proportion to the rest of the face, then an orthognathic surgical procedure would be required to advance the jaw forward. Depending on the particular case, the surgery might involve advancing the chin forward as well.

Facial Balance and Teeth Alignment

The overarching goal of a case such as this is to help establish an optimal facial balance, and accelerating the growth of the lower jaw is the most gentle way to treat this issue. Having advanced the jaw forward, braces were used to optimize the alignment of Tania’s teeth and correct the overbite. The total treatment process took less than 30 months. Early orthodontic evaluations examine patients around age 10 or earlier can identify orthodontic conditions like this and make treatment significantly easier and less expensive, but even if a patient is past the typical early orthodontic evaluation age, getting evaluated sooner than later is always recommended.

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