What is Mandibular Retrognathia and how is it treated?

Mandibular retrognathism, derived from the Latin word retro, meaning “backwards" and the Greek word, gnathos, meaning “jaw”, is a facial deformity which is described as the presence of an anteroposterior discrepancy between the mandible and the maxilla. Both jawbones are misaligned.

In cases of mandibular retrognathism, the mandible is underdeveloped in relation to the maxilla. In dental terminology, mandibular retrognathism is also called class II.

The disharmony between both structures gives the patient’s facial features an inharmonious appearance, which is especially noticeable in profile, and there is a lack of forward projection. Furthermore, the impact of mandibular retrognathism is not only aesthetic: for example, many patients who have this type of malformation suffer from Sleep Apnoea, a condition that negatively affects their quality of life.

Mandibular retrognathism is diagnosed when:

  • The mandibular bone presents abnormal underdevelopment with respect to the maxilla, which is considered a skeletal problem.
  • The chin is receded, that is, it lacks forward projection.
  • The problem is dental.

The three conventional solutions to these problems are, respectively:

  • Bimaxillary orthognathic surgery, where the maxillofacial surgeon needs to operate on both the mandibular and the maxillary bone, or monomaxillary orthognathic surgery, where the surgeon acts on only one of the two skeletal structures. Depending on the case, orthognathic surgery should be accompanied by orthodontic treatment.
  • Mentoplasty, or chin surgery.
  • Orthodontic treatment.

With the mandibular retrognathism or class II solution, apart from giving patients back their quality of life by resolving functional problems such as mastication or more serious conditions such as Sleep Apnoea, it also re-establishes the aesthetic balance between the maxilla and the mandible.

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