Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the “healthy” alignment of teeth so that the individual may achieve the most functional — and aesthetically pleasing — alignment possible.
In fact, orthodontics began as a set of procedures and techniques to move crowded, misaligned teeth into a proper functional position. Period. The fact that this alignment made the teeth aesthetically pleasing was a pure byproduct.
Advances in the orthodontic field have been astounding over the years. A century ago, orthodontics applied only to adults. Then orthodontic researchers began to study the growth and development of the face in an attempt to correct poor growth trends that would make treatment of the fully developed individual more difficult. This new branch of this specialty was referred to as Dentofacial Orthopedics or Interceptive Orthodontics.
Poor growth patterns and identification of their root causes became the focus by the 70’s. Early oral habits (finger/thumb sucking, overuse of pacifiers), the inability to breathe through the nose (chronic nasal airway obstruction), and the impact these conditions had on facial growth and maturity, were recognized and evaluated.
Lab-simulated chronic nasal obstruction was shown to have profound effects on the growth of the face and jaw. Environmental impact on the growing face proved to be extremely significant. We now pay close attention to any factor that may contribute to one’s inability to breathe, for this results in a directional change in facial form/anatomy from its genetically programmed potential.
At GrotonWellness we work hard to identify the root causes of these growth alterations, looking specifically at diet and specific allergy triggers. Working closely with allergists, MDs,and pediatric specialists, our aim is to restore proper growth.
Speed of recognition and treatment are the keys to success. The faster the nasal airway is opened, the better the treatment outcome. Facially, a child matures very quickly, most critical growth completed before the age of 10. Corrections after growth is complete are more prone to failure and relapse. Also, these early childhood growth problems can lay the groundwork for more severe medical conditions in later life – the most serious being Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD).
All orthodontic treatment at our center begins with a thorough diagnosis which includes an examination, dental/bite impressions, facial and dental pictures, low dose x-rays, and a detailed computer-aided assessment of key structures of the face, jaws and teeth.
The growing patient:
It is usually advantageous to treat the growing patient in phases. Phase One helps redirect growth more favorably, followed by a retention phase during which we wait for all of the remaining permanent teeth to grow into place. Once all the permanent teeth have erupted we reevaluate to determine if a second phase is necessary. Phase Two treatment is commonly shorter in duration when there has been Phase One treatment and in some cases may not be required.
Traditional orthodontics treats teenage children with the aim of straightening teeth and “fixing” the bite. Conversely, Early Orthopedic Orthodontics can be performed on kids as young as seven with the aim of jaw development. Critically different from the traditional, this approach creates more room in the jaw for proper tongue placement, breathing and speech patterns. In many cases, if jaw development is corrected at an early age, permanent teeth have a better chance of coming in straight, thus decreasing the need for braces.
How does it work?
Lightwire functional appliances exert gentle force and have been shown to be very effective at promoting proper jaw growth.
Myo-functional appliances are removable or fixed, and successful in helping to re position the jaws, especially for the child or teen with lower jaws that are too far back. These appliances help train the lower jaw to grow more forward, thus improving oral function.
The grown patient:
Treatment of adults and teens falls into two main categories:
Consisting of a series of thin, clear, plastic coverings that slip over the teeth and provide incremental correction of crowded teeth, Invisalign connective aligner are worn full-time with the exception of mealtime and when brushing. The advantage of Invisalign: more aesthetically pleasing, and may be comfortable during correction of the TMD patient. This is due to its “mouth-guard protection effect” on the jaw. The decision to treat with Invisaligncan only be determined after a comprehensive diagnosis has been completed.