The word “orthodontics” means, literally, straight teeth. But orthodontics has the ability to be much more. Functional orthodontics helps expand the perspective of orthodontic treatment to improve not just the straightness of the teeth, but also the shape of the jaw. This makes room for the teeth, but it also makes room for the other functions the jaw is supposed to perform, including proper swallowing and breathing function.
If you are looking for an approach to orthodontics in New City that does more than just straighten teeth, please email us or call (845) 634-6006 today for an appointment with a New City dentist at New City Family Dental.
Modern Diet and Jaw Problems
Prehistoric people rarely had crooked teeth. These days, crooked teeth are the norm. So what’s changed? A couple of major developmental influences. First, there’s the move away from course, raw foods to more and more cooked and processed foods. Without the constant stimulation of pressure putting teeth, muscles, and bone in opposition, there isn’t enough stimulation of the jaw to encourage full growth of the lower jaw. That’s why people have less room for wisdom teeth, and a major contributor to crowded, crooked teeth.
Mouth Breathing and Jaw Problems
The next factor is mouth breathing. With poor indoor air quality, including the high presence of allergens, children often develop swollen tonsils and adenoids. The adenoids are just at the back of the nose, and when they get swollen in children’s narrow noses, they can restrict or block nose breathing. So a child breathes through their mouth.
Breathing through the mouth has a profound impact on the development of the jaw. The tongue is supposed to rest against the soft palate at the front of the mouth, but in order to breath, the tongue has to move down, out of the way. This means that the tongue can’t press outward on the upper arch, so the upper arch gets constricted by the pressure from the cheeks.
Once the tongue is spending more time on the bottom of the mouth, it can interfere with the development of the lower jaw, too. The lower front teeth are able to overerupt because the mouth is being held open. But the side and back teeth have the tongue on them, so they don’t. This creates a disparity between the front and back teeth, which pushes the jaw backward.
Once the jaw is being pushed backward, it can lead to TMJ, sleep apnea, and other jaw dysfunctions.
Functional Orthodontics Is Focused on the Jaw
Functional orthodontics isn’t focused just on straightening teeth. The goal is to overcome developmental problems that lead to crowded teeth, TMJ, sleep apnea, and more. And the goal is also to avoid surgery and the extraction of teeth. The procedure works to make room in the jaw for all the teeth, rather than trying to restrict the number of teeth to what fits in the jaw.
There are many different functional appliances, but they basically function using a few simple principles:
- Pressing outward on the upper jaw to expand it to a U-shaped arch
- Repositioning some individual teeth
- Advancing the lower jaw
Most functional appliances are removable, so it’s important for users to be compliant with treatment guidelines. Many of the appliances are also adjustable by the wearer, so they can control the pace of their treatment, to some extent.
If compliance is a problem, there are some fixed appliances that can be used to ensure a good pace of treatment.
If you would like to learn whether functional orthodontics are a good treatment for you or your child in New City, please email us or call (845) 634-6006 today for an appointment at New City Family Dental.