Distraction osteogenesis refers the slow movement (distraction) of two bony segments in a manner such that new bone is allowed to fill in the gap created by the separating bony segments. It was initially used to treat defects of the oral and facial region in 1990s. Since then, the surgical and technological advances made in the field of distraction osteogenesis have provided oral surgeons with a safe and predictable method to treat selected deformities of the oral and facial skeleton without the potential complications of grafting. This means faster recovery and no need for a secondary donor site.
Recent advances in technology have provided the oral and maxillofacial surgeon with an easy to place and use distraction device that can be used to slowly grow bone in selected areas of bone loss that has occurred in the upper and lower jaws. The newly formed bone can then serve as an excellent foundation for dental implants.
Distraction osteogenesis does have some disadvantages. It requires the patient to return to the surgeon’s office frequently during the initial two weeks after surgery. This is necessary because in this time frame the surgeon will need to closely monitor the patient for any infection and the patient needs to be informed how to activate the appliance, which needs to occur daily. Also, a second minor office surgical procedure is necessary to remove the distraction appliance.