Distraction Osteogenesis / Growing Your Own Bone / Jaw Replacement

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There are two jaws an upper and lower jaw. Dr. Heffez treats many tumors and cysts of the jaws which may result in the removal of a part or all of one of the jaws. Reconstruction is typically completed immediately or begun immediately after the jaw is resected or cut off. This approach allows you to leave the operating room or hospital with minimal disfigurement. In some cases, Dr. Heffez is frequently referred patients who have had tumors removed or severe trauma and who need to be reconstructed secondarily. Careful planning using special x-rays and plastic models (stereolithographic models) are required.

The lower jaw may be permanently replaced with bone grafts from the hip or rib cage or skull. If temporarily reconstructed with a metal plate, the plate stays hidden under the skin and holds the jaw in its right place. 6-12 months later, the jaw is reconstructed with bone from the hip, skull or leg.

The upper jaw is often replaced with an obturator or a big denture. Implants are often used to help secure the obturator in place. Surprisingly, this replacement is extremely cosmetic.

Dr. Heffez developed and published techniques for growing bone using Distraction Osteogenesis. Imagine cutting a block of bone and then slowly distracting it using special devices. As the bone is slowly distracted bone fills into the gap. In this way bone is grown without adding bone from the hip or leg. Dr. Heffez has been able to grow an entire mandible using this technique.

The technique can be used to grow bone for implants if your jaw bone is not tall enough. The technique can be used after a portion f the jaw has been removed because of cancer or lost from trauma.


The total time depends on the distance the bone needs to grow. For implant work, 2-3 weeks is adequate. To grow a large section of the jaw may take up to 6 months.

The device is worn during the activation phase and consolidation phase. The activation phase is the time that the device is turned. Once the bone is created over a period usually of 2-3 weeks, the bone needs to be kept perfectly still as the bone matures (consolidation phase). The bone will then be ready to be used fro implants or to place a denture o r bridge over it.

No. The activation of the device is not painful.

The device may be activated by you, but it is best done by Dr. Heffez. The device can be activated once or twice a week. The more often it is activated the sooner the procedure will be completed. For implants, the device is usually activated for a period of 2-3 weeks. At the end of this period, the bone has been grown. But it cannot be used for implants because the bone is young. It will take 3 months for the bone to become hard like the surrounding bone.

The bone that is grown is your own bone. It is not a bone graft. After 3 months of consolidation, that is 3 months without further stimulation and activation of the device, the bone will be as strong as the surrounding bone.

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