When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone that surrounded the roots supporting the teeth is reabsorbed, first in width and then in height. When teeth have been missing for some time there may not be enough height of bone to support an implant. By placing traction on the bone we can exploit the bone’s natural healing process in order to increase the height of bone. This process is the same as that used by orthopedic surgeons to lengthen arms and legs.
Distraction osteogenesis (DO) is a relatively new method of treatment for selected deformities and defects of the oral and facial skeleton. It was first used in 1903. Then, in the 1950’s the Russian orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Gabriel Ilizarov slowly perfected the surgical and postoperative management of distraction osteogenesis treatment to correct deformities and repair defects of the arms and legs. His work went mostly unnoticed until he presented to the Western Medical Society in the mid-1960’s.
Distraction osteogenesis was initially used to treat defects of the oral and facial region in 1990. Since then, the surgical and technological advances made in the field of distraction osteogenesis have provided the oral and maxillofacial surgeons with a safe and predictable method to treat selected deformities of the oral and facial skeleton.
Simply stated, distraction osteogenesis means the slow movement apart (distraction) of two bony segments in a manner such that new bone is allowed to fill in the gap created by the separating bony segments.
Since all distraction osteogenesis surgical procedures are done while the patient is under general anesthesia, pain during the surgical procedure is not an issue. Postoperatively, you will be supplied with appropriate analgesics (pain killers) to keep you comfortable, and antibiotics to fight off infection. Activation of the distraction device to slowly separate the bones may cause some patients mild discomfort. In general, the slow movement of bony segments produces discomfort roughly analogous to having braces tightened.
Distraction osteogenesis surgical procedures typically produce less pain and swelling than the traditional surgical procedure for a similar condition. Distraction osteogenesis may eliminate the need for bone grafts, and therefore, another surgical site.
Distraction osteogenesis requires the patient to return to the surgeon's office frequently during the initial two weeks after surgery. This is necessary because in this time frame the surgeon will need to closely monitor the patient for any infection and teach the patient how to activate the appliance. Also a second surgical procedure is necessary to remove the distraction appliance.
Yes. Recent advances in technology have provided the oral and maxillofacial surgeon with an easy to place and use distraction device that can be used to slowly grow bone in selected areas of bone loss which has occurred in the upper and lower jaws. The newly formed bone can then serve as an excellent foundation for dental implants.
No. Distraction osteogenesis works well on patients of all ages. In general, the younger the patient the shorter the distraction time and the faster the consolidation phase. Adults require slightly longer period of distraction and consolidation because the bone regenerative capabilities are slightly slower than those of adolescence or infants.