Benefits of Functional Orthodontics
Some of the most outstanding benefits of functional orthodontics include:
- Improved airway function. A narrow jaw or other anatomical abnormalities in the mouth can hinder the free flow of air, especially at night. This can lead to apneas (short periods of not breathing). By reshaping the oral structures, functional orthodontics may be able to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.
- Lower risk of TMD. A retruded chin or narrow jaw affects the way the teeth come together (occlusion). Improper occlusion, in turn, places stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and can lead to TMJ dysfunction (TMD). By promoting proper occlusion, functional orthodontics lowers the risk of TMD.
- Extractions usually not needed. Traditional orthodontic treatment often involves extractions, especially if the teeth are overcrowded. Extractions are often not necessary with functional orthodontics because the process aims to make sure all of the teeth have a proper place.
- Benefits for young people. Functional orthodontics can benefit patients of almost any age. However, young people especially may appreciate that by correcting an improper bite, functional orthodontics can create a more appealing facial appearance. It can also help young children to avoid many future problems that are associated with malocclusion.
What Is Functional Orthodontics?
Functional orthodontics involves the use of special appliances to do more than just straighten the teeth. Rather, the appliances aim to retrain the jaw to rest in the proper position, and in many cases, also encourage jaw growth and bone remodeling. For example, it can help to correct a retruded chin or expand a narrow palate.
Functional vs. Traditional Orthodontics
Traditional orthodontics is primarily about straightening the teeth. Functional orthodontics is an approach that focuses more on the medical aspects of jaw and bite alignment.
There are some key differences between the two types of treatment. For example, they may use different types of appliances to achieve their goals. And unlike traditional orthodontics, functional orthodontics does not typically use tooth extraction to address problems with an overcrowded smile. Instead, it can expand the jaw and make room for all the teeth. Ultimately, it may be able to guide teeth into their proper places following the pattern that would have been achieved if the oral structures had developed correctly in the first place.
Whom Can Functional Orthodontics Help?
Functional orthodontics from a holistic dentist might be right for you if:
- Poor jaw alignment is affecting your facial profile.
- You are struggling with a myofunctional disorder. Difficulty swallowing, tongue thrust, mouth breathing, and similar problems might all be correctable with the assistance of functional orthodontics (and perhaps myofunctional therapy as well).
- You suffer from sleep disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea, due to a narrow upper airway or other problems that are related to the positioning of your oral structures.
- You have frequent jaw pain. Jaw pain is a common indicator of TMJ dysfunction (also called TMD), which is a persistent condition of the jaw joint that can cause overall musculoskeletal disharmony.
Functional orthodontics can help people of almost all ages. Although it may be faster in younger patients, it can help mature adults as well.
Does Invisalign Count as Functional Orthodontics?
Invisalign clear braces are a more traditional form of orthodontics. If your jaw positioning and size are already in good shape, but your teeth aren’t well-aligned, it could be the perfect holistic solution for you. Not only does Invisalign help your smile look better, but this dental treatment helps it function better as well. It uses transparent aligner trays to shift the teeth so you can undergo treatment without having a noticeable appliance in your mouth.
Contact the dental office of William B. Langston III, D.D.S. for complete holistic dental care in the Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas area. If you're experiencing TMJ pain or other problems with your bite, we can provide modern functional or traditional orthodontic care and so much more, supporting optimal health and function with a different kind of dentistry. Visit our Sunnyvale dental office to learn more!
The ALF Appliance
Dr. Langston often uses an Advanced Lightwire Functional (ALF) appliance as part of functional orthodontics treatment. An ALF appliance is a custom-made wire framework that is placed around the teeth. It uses the principles of cranial osteopathy to gently reshape both the mandible and maxilla. This can promote proper dental alignment and jaw formation. It can even be used in conjunction with myofunctional therapy to promote healthy breathing, swallowing, and chewing patterns.