The mandibular angle is an area of the jaw located behind the third molar in the mouth. It is the triangular region near the lower jaw, above the top edge of the masseter muscle and below the upper insertion point of the masseter. Injuries to the area may cause difficulty speaking and chewing. A malformed mandibular angle can result in an unsymmetrical appearance to the jaw.
Fractures of the mandibular angle are often slow to heal because of the constant movements of the masseter and temporalis muscles of the jaw. The broken bony fragments may be pushed farther apart by the movement of the muscles. Surgical stabilization of the fracture may be necessary to restore the functionality of the jaw.
The mandibular angle is very painful when significant force is applied to the area. This pressure point is located just below the earlobe and above the lower jawbone. Gentle massage of the mandibular angle may be used to relieve some of the pain associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Mandibular angle massage begins with small circular motions directly below the ear lobe for a period of about five minutes. The massage can be followed with a slow opening and closing movement of the jaw. In addition, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications and ice may be recommended to relieve some of the pain and swelling associated with this condition.
Many patients with craniomaxillofacial deformities have an alloplastic implant added to the mandibular angle. These implants are used to restore a symmetrical balance to a person’s jaw. Alloplastic prosthetics may be made from dimethylsiloxane, polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE), polyethylene, and polyester. Other mandibular implants are made from an acrylic material called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) resin.
Some plastic surgeons will use an implant, fat injections, or an osteotomy procedure to fill out the mandibular angle during a facial rejuvenation operation. The cosmetic alloplastic mandibular implant adds volume and contour to the appearance of the jaw. After the implant is correctly aligned with the natural jawbone, it is fixated in place with a surgical screw.
Complications of the mandibular implant are usually limited to a temporary numbness of the nerves in the area. Most sensation returns two to three weeks after the procedure. An infection occasionally sets in that must be treated with antibiotics. Rarely, the plastic surgeon may have tilted the implant slightly, causing a minor imbalance in symmetry. If this happens, the implant may need to be surgically adjusted to even out the appearance of the jaw line.