What is Long Face Syndrome?
Why the long face? Well, everyone knows the expression is usually used for sadness, exhaustion, or stress. However, there is also an orthodontic condition that goes by the name ‘long face syndrome’.
It is characterized by a structural skull fracture that causes a change of facial shape leading to interference in breathing, eating, talking, etc. Also known as facial hyper divergence, this condition results in a longer than usual lower third portion of the face. This includes the jaw and the chin. In most cases long face syndrome results in the upper gums becoming visible when the person smiles. The long face may also cause drooping eyes and darkened skin beneath the eyes. The physical signs of long face syndrome are not very obvious and may easily be overlooked. However, prolonged and untreated conditions can cause breathing and eating difficulties. Complications like sleep apnea, jaw misalignment, crowded teeth, and fatigue because of lack of sleep.
How to Tell if you have Long Face Syndrome?
Only a dental or medical evaluation can diagnose the problem. Only a visual examination cannot, in most cases, be fruitful. For children, the professional diagnoses long face syndrome when the child frequently breathes through the nose has a misaligned jaw, or has a smile that displays the gums. In adults, the identifying Long face syndrome symptoms include sleep apnea and dental conditions. Once the professional suspect’s long face syndrome, he examines the face and might decide to take an X-ray to get measurements. The measurements of facial proportions alone, in most cases, are sufficient to make the diagnosis.
What Causes Long Face Syndrome?
Long face syndrome can result from a number of causes with no agreement on a particular cause. The main reason, however, is mouth breathing that may result from chronic nasal obstruction. Such obstruction can narrow the nasal passages or enlarge the adenoid tissue behind the nose. This forces the patient to breathe through the nose and prolonged mouth breathing pulls on the jaw and ultimately pulls the face downwards. This happens because breathing via the mouth pushes the tongue against the front teeth and changes the facial shape over time. it lowers the mandible that causes a higher-arched than the usual palate, narrower maxilla, and increased lower-face size.
Other similar causes of long face syndrome include thumb-sucking and genetic defects. Thumb-sucking can alter the facial shape just as mouth breathing does. Genetics, on the other hand, explain why some children with thumb-sucking problems develop long face syndrome while others do not.
How to Fix Long Face Syndrome?
Depending on when the diagnosis of long face syndrome is made, the treatment varies. Children can be cured using a number of techniques and it is easiest to treat the problem if it is diagnosed at a young age. Simply clearing up any nasal obstruction can solve the problem in cases where the cause is nasal obstruction. This can include surgically removing the adenoids. In young children since the facial proportions are not fully formed, simply practicing nasal breathing can correct the condition easily.
In older children, a combination of treatments including adenoid removal, braces, and other orthodontic treatments can help. People in their mid-teens, however, may need jaw surgery to correct the facial proportions because the jaws are set in place by that age. Before patients can be prepared for surgery, they require braces for 12 to 18 months to realign the teeth. In other cases, braces alone may correct the problem entirely.
Long Face Syndrome Mouth Breathing Surgery
For the surgery, your orthodontist will collaborate with your surgeon and design a plan for your specific face. The surgery is just like any other orthodontic or jaw surgery. You will first be prepared by placing an IV in your arm and will be given fluids and medication. Anesthesia will follow and the procedure will begin. The surgeon will start by making cuts in your jaw to align it properly. The cuts will be made inside the mouth but some may be needed outside as well. With tiny wires and screws, your jaw will be held in place. The surgeon may also reshape your jaw to make it smaller and better fit inside your mouth.
For recovery, you would have to stay in the hospital for a day or two following the surgery. Complete healing can take up to 6 to 12 weeks during which you have to take extreme care including eating soft foods. Medication may be prescribed for the pain. Once the healing process is complete, you would have to wear your braces once again to maintain the new and proper shape of the jaw. Once the braces are removed after a period prescribed by your orthodontist, you will need retainers to wear overnight.
Orthodontic jaw surgery for long face syndrome is a very effective treatment and can significantly improve your facial proportions and smile. While it is to improve the structure, health, and functions, it also greatly improve the aesthetics of your appearance. The following pictures demonstrate this.
Long Face Syndrome Surgery Before and After
Alternatively, many orthodontists suggest other less invasive procedures today. These include mini-screws and braces that can be used in place of surgery to correct long face syndrome.
When would you need Jaw Surgery?
If your long face syndrome results in complications that interfere with your everyday functioning, like chewing difficulty, uncomfortable bite, affected speech, jaw problems, headaches, face pain, neck posturing problems, sleep apnea, depression, snoring, or chronic nasal congestion, surgery may be needed for complete recovery.
Optimal health is a vital resource in life and if you suffer from long face syndrome, there are quite a few symptoms that can interfere with your normal functioning. Long face syndrome can go unnoticed as symptoms may not always be apparent. If you are having difficulty breathing, talking, or chewing, you should consult a professional. If diagnosed with long face syndrome, to attain optimal health you may need to seek orthodontic treatment, and the earlier you get a hold of the problem the better.