Distraction Osteogenesis


Patients with a congenital craniofacial defect, such as a cleft palate, Crouzon, Apert, or other craniosynostosis syndromes, an improperly formed lower jaw, or facial injuries resulting from trauma may benefit from distraction osteogenesis, a method that gradually alters or grows bone. Distraction osteogenesis is a minimally invasive procedure that also provides an alternative to extensive bone grafting. It can also be used to correct injuries due to facial trauma.

Drs. Johnson and McDonald are experts at performing distraction osteogenesis for patients whose jaw bones need additional height and width due to a congenital condition or injury.

Who is a candidate for distraction osteogenesis?

Although distraction osteogenesis can be performed at any age, children and teens are prime candidates for the procedure due to a shorter recovery period. The procedure helps patients who need additional width, height, or reshaping of their facial bones and is especially successful in children who require such assistance as their permanent teeth begin to come in. For patients who are more prone to infection or other complications, this procedure may not be the right fit.

Distraction osteogenesis is a popular choice over more traditional surgeries for similar conditions. Benefits of this procedure include

  • No need for bone grafts

  • Fewer surgical sites

  • Eliminates need for a tissue bank by using your own bone

  • Controlled process of altering bone

  • Less pain and swelling during recovery than other procedures

The Procedure

The goal of distraction osteogenesis is to create more room for new bone growth. This is done by gradually separating the existing bone, which allows new bone to develop. Typical areas for this procedure include a jaw bone or palate that is too narrow to accommodate healthy tooth growth or is misaligned. However, other areas of the body can benefit from distraction osteogenesis as well, such as the windpipe for improved breathing or cheeks and eye sockets for increased protection.

During the procedure, your oral surgeon will locate the specific area where new bone growth is desired. A small device will be placed, which will be adjusted from time to time in our office. Patients can expect to turn the device slowly over one to two weeks following the procedure. Every time the device is adjusted, the two segments of bone are pulled slowly in opposing directions. The healing period, when soft tissue regenerates and becomes new bone, will take place during the six to eight weeks after the procedure. The device is removed surgically once your surgeon determines that the height and width of new bone are sufficient.

Because distraction osteogenesis takes place gradually, many patients find the process less painful than braces or other orthodontic treatments, although some discomfort is to be expected during the distraction period. Your oral surgeon may prescribe painkillers or recommend over-the-counter medications to help with any discomfort.

Distraction Osteogenesis

If you want to learn more about distraction osteogenesis for yourself or your child, we encourage you to contact our offices in Wenatchee, WA, or Moses Lake, WA. Our oral surgeons will meet with you during a consultation to discuss and determine a treatment plan that works best for you. We look forward to caring for you and your family at Central Washington Oral & Facial Surgery.

To request a consultation and learn more about our services, please request an appointment now. We look forward to helping you improve your oral health and smile!