Crooked teeth are a cosmetic problem that conceal much more important functional problems. While traditional orthodontics may work to straighten teeth, functional orthodontics works by addressing these more foundational problems, which can lead not only to straighter teeth, but better overall health and better facial appearance. With early intervention, less invasive procedures can be used to achieve more practical long-term results.
Benefits of Functional Orthodontics
Functional orthodontics goes beyond simply trying to achieve straight teeth. Instead, functional orthodontics is trying to achieve many results such as:
- Expansion of the lower jaw
- Eliminating the need for extracting teeth
- Creating balance between upper and lower jaws
- Improving facial appearance
- Developing a healthy airway for better breathing
- Establishing a healthy bite
- Avoiding jaw surgery
Traditional orthodontics works by simply applying force to the teeth to move them. But the same mechanism can be used to expand the jaw. By applying force to the jaw, it causes the body to rework the jaw structure, expanding it. When your jaw becomes larger, there’s no need to extract teeth to make room for new teeth to come in.
This establishes a better balance between the upper and lower jaws. This balance creates a more attractive profile, avoiding the appearance of a weak or receding jaw.
Expanding the jaw also has less visible positive effects. The structure of the airway is determined partially by the structure of the jaw. So expanding the jaw creates a healthier airway that improves breathing during the day and at night. It can reduce the risk of sleep apnea.
In the process of expanding the jaws, functional orthodontics also establishes a healthier relationship between the jaws, which leads to a healthier bite. A healthy bite reduces the risk of developing TMJ later in life. Traditional orthodontics seems to be ineffective at preventing TMJ (although it also doesn’t seem to cause it).
Best of all, we can achieve these results with a less invasive approach. In many cases, people who might otherwise have needed surgery can avoid it.
ControlledArch is a new development in functional orthodontics. It expands the functional orthodontics approach for use in children, teens, and adults. ControlledArch orthodontics utilize your body’s developmental pathways to expand your jaws. This not only makes room for your teeth, it helps you achieve your genetic potential for proper development of facial proportions and beauty.
Because ControlledArch works with your body and not against it, we can achieve results faster than with traditional orthodontics. And you’ll enjoy the benefits of more than just straight teeth: you’ll have a more attractive facial balance, too!
Airway Problems Become Bite Problems
Functional orthodontics addresses the root causes that lead to developmental problems in the bite. One of the key factors that influences poor jaw development is breathing problems. Because we live indoors, children are exposed to more concentrated allergens than in the past. This causes swelling of the adenoids, glands in the back of the nasal passages. When the adenoids expand, it blocks the airway, forcing a child to breathe through their mouth.
Mouth breathing in turn puts the tongue out of position. Since the tongue is a major factor in helping to develop the jaw, the result is deficient development of the jaw.
Fixed and Removable Appliance Options
Traditional orthodontics relies primarily on fixed appliances for children. Brackets for braces are bonded directly to teeth and cannot be removed, although teens and adults may have removable orthodontic options like Invisalign. With functional orthodontics, we have both fixed and removable appliances that can be used. Removable orthodontics may be more comfortable, and are definitely more flexible. But they depend on commitment to ensure they get worn for long enough to achieve results.
Fixed appliances can ensure treatment results in cases where the wearer can’t be trusted to keep the appliance in enough. Which choice is best depends on many factors and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We can also change from one appliance to the other if necessary.
Does Functional Orthodontics Mean You Don’t Need Braces?
Functional orthodontics may replace braces. In some cases, intervening early may eliminate the need for braces. Other times, we may need to have a second stage of functional orthodontics, which is comparable to braces. Or we may need to switch to braces or another form of traditional orthodontics to ensure straight teeth.
This varies from case to case, and it’s not always possible to predict at the time we begin treatment.
If you would like to discuss functional orthodontics in Westchester County, please call (914) 352-5175 today for an appointment at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.