Did you know that only about 20% of orthodontic issues in children are genetic? This means that external factors play a significant role in the development of teeth, such as poor tongue position, mouth breathing, thumb sucking, enlarged tonsils, allergies, and more. This highlights the importance of early intervention during a child’s developmental stage to prevent orthodontic issues that carry on into adulthood. This is where functional orthopedics can be beneficial.
Most people have heard of orthodontic appliances such as braces, clear aligners, and retainers, which help move teeth to their desired position. Functional orthopedics, on the other hand, help promote proper facial growth and jaw structure. Although part of the same ‘class’ of dentistry, there are key differences between orthodontics and functional orthopedics.
The difference between orthodontics and functional orthopedics
The main difference between orthodontics and functional orthopedics is that orthodontic appliances are used for the purpose of correcting an issue, while functional orthopedics aim to prevent orthodontic problems. Functional orthopedics is typically the first step in correcting malocclusions.
- Orthodontics appliances - Treatments such as braces, clear aligners, and retainers help achieve proper alignment of the teeth and jaw. These devices gradually move the teeth into position.
- Functional orthopedic devices - Typically used at an early age to correct problems that lead to misalignment and malpositioning of the teeth and jaw, such as mouth breathing, tongue positioning, thumb sucking, and more. Unlike orthodontic appliances, orthopedic devices are short-term.
Depending on your age and dental condition, your orthodontist or dentist in Fort McMurray will recommend different treatment options that will help you achieve the desired outcome.
Orthodontics and functional orthopedics for children, teens, and adults
While young adults and adults may be eligible for functional orthopedics, treatments have a higher success rate for young children. This is because the jaw and facial muscles are still developing and orthopedic devices can promote favourable jaw and facial development. For adults whose jaw development is set, we focus on providing orthodontic treatments to correct the issue.
In children, orthodontic issues can arise from:
- Excessive thumb sucking - Prolonged thumb sucking can shift teeth and cause issues with jaw development, such as an open bite (when the upper front teeth and the lower front teeth don’t come together). An open bite can affect speech and make it difficult for children to bite and chew. For this reason, thumb sucking and the use of pacifiers should not continue past the toddler stage.
- Baby teeth loss - Although tooth loss is a natural stage of development, children who lose their baby teeth too early are at a higher risk of misaligned teeth as the surrounding teeth shift to accommodate for the space. Baby teeth loss can occur naturally or caused by injury - in either case, we want to take a look and see what preventive measures we can apply to ensure permanent teeth develop properly.
- Improper tongue posture - This problem can lead to a narrow palate, which can affect facial growth. This can cause an open bite, speech impediments, teeth grinding, sleep apnea, and more. In this case, functional orthopedics can help position the tongue properly and prevent teeth from shifting.
If you’re looking for orthodontic and functional orthopedic services for your family, contact us at Franklin Dental Centre. Our family dentists in Fort McMurray can help you achieve healthy gums and teeth at all stages of life.