What Is The Best Treatment For My Jaw Asymmetry?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I’ve always been aware that my jaw is asymmetrical.  The right side of my jaw looks fuller and more defined than the left.  It also leaves my face with sort of a twisted look. I did have surgery about ten years ago to remove a tumor in my jaw.  They took bone from my hip and grafted it in to replace what the tumor had  destroyed.  The right side just looks and feels (both externally and internally) too full, while my left jaw doesn’t look full or defined enough.  Furthermore, the right jaw protrudes further out from my neck, while the left side is much closer and less discernable from the neck. I’m just writing to inquire about what options I”d have to correct this issue.  I don’t experience any issues with teeth alignment or any pain, it’s just something that is really bothering me from a purely cosmetic standpoint.  I don’t think I look normal.  Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

A: What you are describing is asymmetry of the ramus or back portions of the jaws, known as the jaw angles. When evaluating asymmetry, it is important to determine if there is a ‘good’ side or whether both sides are off. That obviously would determine whether you only treat one side (augment the deficient side or reduce the larger side) or whether both sides need to changed. Based on your description, I suspect that it is a combination of both sides for your jaw asymmetry surgery.

The first place to start is to make the correct diagnosis. This starts with sending me some pictures of your face. A recent x-ray such as a simple panorex film from a  dentist’s office would also be helpful at some point. In an ideal world, a 3-D CT scan and jaw model is the perfect way to custom design a jaw reshaping procedure. But it is premature at this point to say that such a model is needed.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana