Will A Jaw Angle Implant Restore Part Of My Jaw Lost By A Fracture?

Q:  Dr. Eppley, I was involved in a car accident in 2009 and sustained what is called a subcondylar jaw fracture. I was told by the doctors that it was not bad enough to fix so they let it heal without surgery. After a few months when I could open my jaw better, I noticed an obvious difference between the two sides of my jaw. My left jaw angle appears to have disappeared. It now makes my face appear crooked. I was wondering if some type of implant may help cover up this lost part of my jaw. What do you suggest?

A: When the neck of the jaw is broken, the thin connecting bone between the condylar head and the big ramus of the back part of the jaw, the vertical length or height of the jaw can shorten. A subcondylar fracture, if unrepaired, can make for a shorter posterior jaw height and apparent ‘loss’ of the distinctive jaw angle. This is because the jaw angle moves upward as the jaw height shortens. Provided that you have good jaw function and the only issue is a cosmetic one of the jaw angle, that could be camouflaged and made more symmetric by a jaw angle implant. It would be important that the right jaw angle implant be used. It needs to be one that doesn’t just widen the jaw angle (lateral augmentation) but rather provides a lengthening to the jaw angle. (inferolateral augmentation). These type of jaw angle implant can provide up to a centimeter of vertical length increase.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana