Traditional orthodontics treat teenage children with the aim of straightening teeth and “fixing” the bite. Conversely, Early Orthopedic Orthodontics can be performed on kids as young as two 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.
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.
At Groton Wellness, 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 ten. 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).
Poor growth patterns and identification of their root causes became the focus by the 1970’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.
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.
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 reposition 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.
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.