Functional Orthodontics is a type of orthodontics that most people have not heard about. Functional orthodontics consists of not only straightening a person’s teeth, but also creates a better facial profile by repositioning the upper and lower jaws. If a person has a poor alignment of either the upper or lower jaws, their bite may be thrown off. As a result, this can lead to migraine headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, sleep apnea, ringing in the ears, TMJ dysfunctions, upper airway obstruction, and poor facial profiles.
In cases of crowded teeth, traditional orthodontics usually involves the extraction of teeth in order to create more room in a person’s mouth. Four bicuspid teeth are commonly extracted in order to create enough room to straighten the patient’s teeth. However, by extracting teeth, this can make a person’s smile less broad and much narrower. This can also lead to the flattening of their facial profile that cannot be corrected later.
Functional orthodontics approaches straightening teeth in a different way. Unlike traditional orthodontics, the teeth are not extracted. Instead, the jaw is expanded to make more room for all the teeth. This is accomplished by the use of a mouth appliance. The appliances must be kept in place for a specified time. When the appliances are worn, both the upper and lower jaws are widened, creating more space for teeth and a more balanced profile. It also helps to expand the sinus and can correct sleep apnea and breathing problems. When a patient is compliant, results are amazing and well worth the time and effort. The patient does not have to extract their teeth, and their end result will be significantly better.
Some Facts About Functional Orthodontics
- Treatment usually starts at an early age before all the permanent teeth have been erupted.
- When there is too much crowding of the teeth, the upper and lower arches are expanded with a mouth appliance to create adequate space in the mouth for all the teeth.
- Because the arches are expanded, extraction of teeth is rarely required.
- Since a non-extraction technique is used, a more balanced facial profile is created. It also creates a more broad and beautiful smile.
- Functional orthodontics improves the health of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), and improves both the patient’s airway and breathing.
Treatment Through Functional Orthodontics
Functional Orthodontics is sometimes called two phase Orthodontics; Phase I and Phase II.
Phase I usually starts at an early age. There are several advantages of starting treatment at an early age. When treatment is started early, teeth usually do not need to be extracted because the child is still in their growth stage. Functional (orthopedic) appliances are used to properly expand the upper jaw and guide the development of the upper and lower jaw. This creates adequate space for all the permanent teeth. A patient’s profile is significantly and routinely improved as the lower jaw is moved in the correct position, which creates a fuller and convex appearance. In addition, patients treated through functional orthodontics usually show less signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.
After Phase I is completed, there is a waiting period for all the permanent teeth to erupt. Once all the permanent teeth have erupted the case is re-evaluated. If needed, phase II is started using fixed braces or Invisalign. Fixed braces or Invisalign are used as a final finishing treatment to move teeth to their proper position in both the upper and lower arches. In functional orthodontics, fixed braces are usually worn for only 12 months instead of 2-3 years as with traditional orthodontics. At the end of treatment, a beautiful and broad smile is created without the extraction of teeth.
There are different ways to approach straightening teeth. It is up the patient or the patient’s parents to decide which treatment is the best option. However, there is something to keep in mind when deciding. Traditional orthodontics gives you straight teeth. Functional orthodontics gives you not only straight teeth, but several other factors are improved as well. At Legacy Dental Care, we can help you obtain your most optimal smile by using functional orthodontics. Please give us a call for a free consultation.