Traditional orthodontics tends to focus only on straightening teeth, but functional orthodontics is a whole-patient approach where the initial focus is orthopaedic (focusing on the facial bones). It helps create room in the jaws for the teeth to sit, and a better relationship of the upper and lower jaws so they match by guiding bone growth. As a result, it can create an improved facial profile and a broader smile, with less chance of teeth being extracted.
Before any traditional orthodontic treatment begins, functional orthodontics addresses these orthopedic aspects of the patient’s overall health:
- - the skeletal bones that make up the head and face
- - the upper and lower jaw bones and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- - the relationship of the of the TMJ to the neck and back
- - the patient’s airway
After these aspects have been addressed, then any necessary traditional orthodontic treatment to straighten a patient’s teeth can begin.
Treatment often occurs in two phases:
- - Phase 1: Patients are fitted with oral appliances to develop the upper and lower jaw bones (maxilla and mandible). Treatment timeframes generally last from 6 to 18 months but sometimes last longer.
- - Phase 2: After the jaws have developed and all the permanent teeth have appeared, patients wear traditional braces to straighten their teeth, if needed. Treatment time typically lasts another 9 to 18 months, but may last several years in some cases.
The benefits of functional orthodontics include more than straight teeth. This treatment method provides children more ability to develop to their maximum genetic potential. It can also help correct sleep breathing disorders. As the palate develops, the nasal and sinus passages expand, allowing patients to breathe more easily through their noses. Proper brain and body development depend on oxygenation in the body, and palate expansion promotes this.
NZDOS - how can we help
We have members with functional orthodontic experience that can provide reliable, safe treatment. Check them out on our Doctor finder.