When most people think of orthodontics, they think of straightening their teeth for a more even, beautiful smile. However, orthodontics often corrects issues with the jaw and bite that would become problematic, and for some, functional orthodontics takes that process one step further.
Functional orthodontics helps reposition your upper and lower jaw to support a better facial profile . This field of orthodontics works to correct both your teeth and your facial structure for people that are concerned about both their teeth and their facial aesthetics.
How else is functional orthodontics different from traditional orthodontic treatment?
A Different Approach to Straightening Teeth
In traditional orthodontics, teeth are treated without looking at the original cause of the problem.
For example, crowded teeth are typically treated by extracting the teeth that don’t have room and positioning the remaining teeth accordingly. However, in functional orthodontics, your orthodontist will actually use a device to expand the jaw to make room for all the teeth, thereby addressing the root cause of the issue—that there was not enough room in the jaw for all the teeth to begin with.
What are the benefits of such an approach?
By expanding the jaw, your orthodontist works to create a more even facial profile and can even influence airway development to prevent breathing issues. Functional orthodontics can also play a role in preventing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which can cause chronic pain in the jaw .
Functional orthodontics operates under the philosophy that dental abnormalities are caused by environmental factors and can be corrected without extractions.
Who Qualifies for Functional Orthodontics?
Both adults and children can benefit from functional orthodontics. One of the benefits of functional orthodontics is that its approach can prevent teeth from shifting after orthodontic treatment is complete.
There are a variety of functional orthodontic devices that can be used to stimulate growth of the jaw to correct alignment issues . However, wearing the device as required by your orthodontist is essential to the success of your treatment.
Children may have trouble wearing the appliances as often as recommended, depending on their treatment plan. This is something you can discuss with your orthodontist during your child’s consultation!
Where to Find a Functional Orthodontist
Although all orthodontists are trained to improve aesthetics and function of the teeth, not every orthodontist practices functional orthodontics as a form of treatment. To find an orthodontist who works to address the root cause of the issue, you can ask whether they’ll be using an appliance to correct the jaw or if they’ll be extracting the teeth to make room.
Their approach to your orthodontic concerns will tell you whether or not the orthodontist practices a functional approach as opposed to a traditional one. Regardless of which form of orthodontic treatment you decide is for you, improving your smile will always have benefits!
Proper jaw position can support successful orthodontic treatment and provide the foundation patients need for a beautiful, problem-free smile. Consider functional orthodontics for your child or for your treatment as an adult for lasting results!