Providing Expert, Compassionate Care During Treatment
Children who have been treated for a head or neck tumor, especially those who had a malignant (cancerous) tumor, sometimes develop facial and dental (dentofacial) growth issues and abnormalities because of their treatment. These anomalies can negatively impact a child’s functioning or appearance.
At AdventHealth for Children, we want to help your child return to as normal and comfortable a life as possible. That’s why our Pediatric Head and Neck Surgery Program established one of the country’s first comprehensive centers dedicated specifically to proactively addressing and correcting dentofacial growth and development concerns, especially in children with a history of head and neck tumors.
Our pediatric head and neck surgeons are ready to help. To get started, request an appointment and our Nurse Care Coordinator will contact you.
Our Proactive Approach to Dentofacial and Jaw Issues in Children
If your child has a malignant head and neck tumor, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be an important part of their overall treatment plan. Unfortunately, radiation therapy can damage critical craniofacial growth centers as it treats the cancerous area. This can slow or even stop proper growth and development of your child’s jaw, teeth and sinuses. Chemotherapy can also kill stem cells and other important cells that promote regeneration and healing within your child’s craniofacial soft tissue, causing facial abnormalities.
At the Dentofacial and Jaw Anomalies Center at AdventHealth for Children, we specialize in treating a wide range of maxillofacial conditions:
- Condylar hyperplasia
- Idiopathic condylar resorption
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- TMJ dysfunction
Our team anticipates and addresses both the functional and aesthetic reconstructive needs (including pediatric plastic surgery) of children with head and neck tumors, building them into your child’s customized long-term treatment plan. We are also actively involved in researching and incorporating new ways to minimize the negative impacts of critical cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy on children’s growth, function and appearance.
FAQs About Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) — sometimes called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis — is the most common form of arthritis that occurs in children under age 16. It can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in any joint of the body, and occurs more often in girls than boys.
Question: What causes juvenile idiopathic arthritis?Answer:
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means a child’s immune system is overactive and attacks its own joints. We don’t know what causes this to happen in some children, but it may be hereditary, influenced by genetic factors passed down from their parents. Environmental factors, including infection, trauma or stress, may also play a role.
Question: What are the symptoms of JIA?Answer:
Many children with JIA develop arthritis in their temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which can lead to pain, trouble opening the mouth and abnormal growth of the jaw joint and its surrounding muscles. This can result in an undersized jaw (micrognathia) or malocclusion (misalignment of the child’s teeth and bite). If only one joint is affected, it can also cause one side of the face to look different.
Not all children who have juvenile idiopathic arthritis with TMJ involvement will experience symptoms, but those who do may experience the following:
· Limited ability to fully open the mouth
· Clicking or pain when talking or chewing
· Changes to the appearance of the face
Question: How is JIA diagnosed?Answer:
To properly diagnose TMJ involvement due to juvenile idiopathic arthritis, your child’s doctor should perform a thorough physical joint exam and may also request periodic MRIs to help detect any changes over time.
Question: How is JIA treated?Answer:
Many children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis are placed on biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs). If your child experiences TMJ issues related to their arthritis, surgery may be necessary to restore proper jaw function and appearance. We specialize in performing these procedures and will provide compassionate, customized care to meet your child’s individual needs.
FAQs About Condylar Hyperplasia
A rare craniofacial condition that can affect children, condylar hyperplasia involves the overgrowth of areas of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) bones caused by overactivity in a bony structure of the jaw called the mandibular condyle. The abnormal growth typically occurs on just one side, so children with condylar hyperplasia often develop facial asymmetry, causing the two sides of the face to look different. In some cases, the midpoint of the child’s chin actually shifts toward the unaffected side, or the lower jaw begins to bulge or stick out.
Question: What causes condylar hyperplasia in children?Answer:
Experts don’t know what causes condylar hyperplasia. It tends to occur most often during an active growth stage, especially in adolescence.
Question: What are the symptoms?Answer:
While the main symptom of condylar hyperplasia in children is facial asymmetry, they can also develop crossbite malocclusion, which is a misalignment of the top and bottom teeth. Other symptoms can include difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, as well as blockage in one side of the nose.
Question: How is condylar hyperplasia diagnosed?Answer:
In addition to performing a comprehensive physical exam and medical history, your child’s doctor may request a CT scan or nuclear medicine study to help diagnose condylar hyperplasia. A biopsy may also be performed to rule out a cancerous tumor.
Question: What are the treatment options for condylar hyperplasia?Answer:
The primary treatment for condylar hyperplasia is surgery to remove the abnormal growth and correct your child’s appearance and function. AdventHealth for Children’s experienced Dentofacial and Jaw Anomalies surgical team specializes in treating even the most complex cases of condylar hyperplasia. We take great care to fully understand your child’s current condition and future growth to achieve the best possible outcome.