What is Functional Orthodontics? (also known as ‘Orthopaedics’)

What is Functional Orthodontics? (also known as ‘Orthopaedics’)

What is Functional Orthodontics? (also known as ‘Orthopaedics’)

Most people don’t know that there are different ways to straighten teeth. Often it is using conventional brackets or ‘train-track’ braces, but there are other ways that may be more suited to certain patients.

Orthopaedics involves modifying the size, shape and relationship of the bones of the face and jaws. In other words, helping the body to optimise the genetic potential for growth, so that the jaw reaches its full size to enable the adult teeth to move into a more favourable position. This also helps to reduce the need for extracting healthy teeth which is unfortunately a common practice in traditional orthodontics.

The use of Functional Orthodontics was first introduced in the early 1980s in the United States. One of the first pioneers was Dr JW ‘Skip’ Truitt, who created the Clinical Foundation of Orthopaedics and Orthodontics to train dentists and orthodontists all over the world to the highest level. Our dentist, Matt has had the opportunity to be trained by Dr Truitt and completed all six of his courses.

Dr Truitt realised that extracting and straightening teeth had a detrimental effect on some patients, that not only caused chronic jaw pain, but also resulted in a suboptimal facial profile and smile. He noticed that waiting for all the adult teeth to erupt would often lead to four extractions to create space in crowded cases. This left patients with flattened facial profiles, narrow smiles that were less attractive, as the teeth would often be pulled back to close the gaps, and this may result in TMJ dysfunction or airway problems.

Every child is evaluated whilst growing and their jaws are developing. The most common problem observed is an underdeveloped maxilla (upper jaw), which results in crowding as the adult teeth erupt, but also a ‘trapped’ lower jaw. Often the upper arch is expanded using a combination of removable appliances, such as a Schwarz or Twin Blocks.

So what causes the problem in the first place? Most of the time, it is genetic, but there are some behaviours in early age that may result in developmental imbalance, such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and swallowing habits. These can be picked up at from a young age and are usually best treated as early as possible, assuming compliance. If they are identified early and treated with an orthopaedic appliance, this almost always eliminates the need for any healthy adult tooth extraction and can result in braces being worn for shorter time later on.

If you think your child may benefit from a course of functional orthodontic treatment, then please contact our receptionist and book a consultation with Matt.

One Comment

  1. My son is 15 and has a type three maloclusion
    is it too late for functional Orthodontics?
    We live in Israel
    Do you have specialists here?

    chaya lea Guggenheim
    Jan 11, 2024 Reply

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