PHILADELPHIA -- Until now, patients who suffered oral or facial deformities due to trauma or congenital disorders have had to wear a metal device implanted into the jaw from the outside of the face in order to correct the problem. Surgeons at Temple University Hospital are among the first to offer patients a distraction device implanted completely inside the mouth that helps to regrow destroyed bone, essentially growing a new jaw for the patient.
Dr. Brian Smith, chairman of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Temple University Hospital and School of Dentistry, will implant the first internal oral distraction device, called DynaForm, into a patient on Monday, August 10. Joan Dugan, a resident of Mt. Laurel, NJ, was born with a lower jaw significantly smaller than her upper jaw. This misalignment makes eating and even speaking difficult since her teeth do not meet and her tongue is in an awkward position.
Howmedica Leibinger, the company that manufactures DynaForm, has chosen Temple as one of only three sites in the U.S. to be the first to offer the device to patients. Smith will be among a small group of surgeons that will train in Venezuela and then teach other physicians across the U.S. proper use and implantation technique for the distractor.
The distractor works like those traditionally used in the jaw or leg but is much less cumbersome in size and virtually unnoticeable during use since it is implanted internally. The device, which is not much larger than a standard paper clip, is fixed to the jaw and then widened one millimeter each day by the patient. The distraction process, which makes room for the new bone to grow, takes from five to nine days. After that period, the device is left in for approximately six weeks to allow the new bone to fill in the gap before being removed.
Besides correcting facial deformities, DynaForm can be used as an alternative to painful extraction for severe tooth crowding. The device widens the jaw allowing existing teeth to realign rather than having them pulled.