ORTHODONTIC GROWTH APPLIANCE THERAPY
At Natural Dentist Associates we offer several Growth Appliances, based on individual patient needs. A growth appliance can treat teeth, jaws, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), face, and airways for growth and development, without any surgery or traditional orthodontics.
This fascinating appliance therapy process uses epigenetics to treat children and adults for a variety of dental and medical conditions, including:
- Sleep Apnea/Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- TMJ Disorders
- Teeth Crowding
- Airway Disorders
- Sinus Problems
- High, Narrow Palate
- Underdeveloped Facial/Jaw Structure
- Bad Bite
- Mouth Breathing
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Shoulder/Neck Pain
- Poor Posture
- Mid-Face Deficiency/Long Face Syndrome
- Narrow Face
- Recessed Chin
If you or your child are suffering from one or more of these conditions, there is a good chance of underdevelopment in facial, jaw, and airway structures. Many people believe that growth stops after childhood and that once you are an adult you are “stuck” with what you have, but scientific advances prove this to be untrue. Epigenetics uses a person’s naturally occurring genes to correct and straighten teeth and promote growth and development at any age. The goal of epigenetic orthodontics is to eliminate development-limiting habits and put jaw and facial growth back on track to achieve a healthy and functional smile. A quick consultation with one of our highly trained professionals can easily diagnose a developmental issue and get you the proper appliance and course of therapy to restore proper growth and function.
EARLY FACIAL/JAW DEVELOPMENT
Although it is widely believed that facial profile and beauty are directly related to genetics, this is only partially true. The development of a person’s facial, jaw, and airway structure begins very early on, and is largely based on the environment in which growth is taking place. Facial growth includes the individual growth of each bone that makes up the face. Healthy facial development is the product of normally functioning muscles, proper nutrition, and fully developed airways and nasal passages. When one of these factors is compromised, it will often have an impact on the others. For example, a person with an underdeveloped airway may have difficulty breathing through their nose. This may cause the person to breathe through their mouth, setting off a chain of reactions that can have a huge impact on facial development and overall health.
When discussing facial growth, it is important to understand the connections between facial bones and structure. The upper jaw (maxilla) is not just a bone that holds teeth, it is the entire central portion of one’s face. The maxilla defines the nasal cavity, airways, cheekbones, and determines the position of the lower jaw (mandible). Because of these connections, a fully developed maxilla is critical to one’s health as well as facial features.
The tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the human body, and helps to shape the palate and jaws during early development by applying constant force/pressure to the surrounding structures. Because the jaw bones make up quite a large portion of the face, underdevelopment in this area can cause unpleasant physical features.
The proper oral resting position when not eating or talking should be:
- Tongue to the roof of the mouth
- Lips sealed with teeth lightly touching
- Nasal breathing
Improper tongue resting position often results in underdevelopment of the upper arch/palate. When there is not adequate space in the upper palate, teeth can become crowded and/or crooked, and the lower jaw often becomes forced downward.
FACIAL MUSCLE DYSFUNCTIONS/ PARAFUNCTIONAL HABITS
Jaw and facial growth are guided and stimulated by the soft tissue and muscles of the face. When a muscle or soft tissue dysfunction is present, growth is altered. A facial muscle dysfunction may also be referred to as a parafunctional habit. A parafunctional habit is the repeated use of oral structures that does not involve eating, drinking, swallowing, speaking, or breathing. Because the facial muscles are necessary for development purposes, repeated abnormal function of these muscles can have a negative impact on growth.
Here are a few common parafunctional habits:
- Improper Swallowing
- Thumb Sucking
- Prolonged Use of a Pacifier
- Overactive Lip Muscles
- Overactive Cheek Muscles
- Mouth Breathing
- Incorrect Tongue Posture
- Open Mouth Resting Posture
- Teeth Grinding/Bruxism
- Tongue Thrusting
Proper oral resting posture, exclusive nasal breathing, and eliminating damaging parafunctional habits are all critical to proper facial growth, airway development, and overall health.
TRADITIONAL ORTHODONTICS VS HOLISTIC ORTHODONTICS
Traditional orthodontists focus on moving teeth and making them straight with metal wires, bands, and brackets. During development, jaws and facial bones can under-develop, causing a small mouth with not enough room for the teeth to fit. This creates teeth crowding and a bad bite. Improper use of orthodontic wires from traditional orthodontic treatment can restrict growth, causing further damage and difficulty.
Teeth are often extracted to create more space as part of orthodontic treatment process. Extracting teeth and pulling teeth inward with wires and brackets reduces the size of the mouth, nasal passages, sinuses, and face in general. A small mouth can reduce the size of the airway, crowding the tongue and creating airway obstruction. When left untreated, these airway problems often lead to TMJ Dysfunction, Sleep Apnea, Chronic Sinus Issues, Poor Posture, Chronic Skeletal Pain, Metabolic Problems, and more.
A Holistic Orthodontist still looks to achieve straight teeth and a beautifully symmetrical smile, but also considers function, balanced bite, proper tongue positioning, breathing, sleep, and posture equally, if not more important goals during orthodontic treatment. A Natural Orthodontist looks to create healthy and balanced smiles by promoting natural growth and development which creates space for teeth, correct tongue position, and proper breathing. Growth appliance therapy uses the aid of natural forces, such as the tongue, chewing force, and human growth hormone circadian rhythm. The use of functional growth appliances ensures facial balance, bite balance, proper breathing, and correct tongue positioning. Proper balance and space are what creates stability, health, and prevents future TMJ, postural, and sleep problems.
Click here to learn more about the different appliances we offer at Natural Dentist Associates. Every treatment plan is tailored to the specific needs of the individual, and each appliance is carefully selected to compliment treatment goals.
ORTHODONTIC GROWTH APPLIANCE THERAPY PROCESS
Consultation– the first step is scheduling a consultation, at which point the doctor will learn about your current and past medical and dental history, perform a physical exam including any diagnostic testing, scans or xrays, and create a plan of treatment. You will be provided all treatment options available to you, and a treatment coordinator will discuss the associated costs.
Cone Beam CT Scan– Your doctor may recommend a CBCT scan to help with diagnosis. The CBCT scan is the most advanced technique we have for obtaining detailed images of bone structures for use in diagnosing conditions like TMJ and airway issue. Cone beam imaging is a form of computer tomography (CT) that uses multiple xrays to create a 3-D image of your tissues, including bone tissue. Each x-ray takes a flat picture of your bones. When these images are stacked, they create a 3-D model. Cone beam imaging is different from traditional CT scans because it takes scans from a single point, but projected at different angles. This creates views giving us better representations of 3-D structures, allowing more precise imaging. As an added bonus, the cone beam is able to create images with much less radiation than a traditional CT scan.
At-Home Sleep Testing– If you doctor suspects a breathing problem, she may recommend a take-home sleep test. An at-home sleep test is an easy, cost-effective way to figure out whether you are having trouble breathing. This test monitors your breathing, oxygen levels, and breathing effort while worn. It will measure pauses or absence of breathing, and whether our breathing is shallow. The great news is, you can usually take home the sleep test on the day of your appointment, and these results will greatly help in diagnosis of a sleep disorder.
Dental Appliance Impressions– Once you have a firm diagnosis and treatment recommendation, you are ready to take the impressions for your new growth appliance. The impressions and photos will be taken in one quick and painless appointment. The impressions will be sent to a highly skilled lab where the technicians will fabricate your dental appliance. Once the appliance is created, it will be shipped to our office.
Appliance Delivery– We will call you when the appliance arrives in our office to schedule your appliance delivery appointment. At this appointment, the doctor will assure the proper fit of the appliance and make any necessary adjustments. We will teach you how to properly care for your new dental appliance, and schedule your first appliance adjustment appointment.
Appliance Adjustment– Periodically during your expansion appliance therapy, you will need to visit the office for short adjustment appointments. During these appointments, we will record treatment progress and adjust the appliance to continue expansion. Depending on your treatment plan, you may see the physical therapist and/or orofacial myologist during these appointments.
Physical Therapy– Depending on your symptoms/condition prior to the start of expansion appliance therapy, you may benefit from periodic physical therapy sessions over the course of treatment. Facial underdevelopment does not stop at the teeth and jaws. Development issues can have an effect on posture, muscles, alignment, and functions. Treating these areas together helps the body to work in perfect harmony, which is why we have added a well-trained physical therapist to our expansion appliance therapy process.
Orofacial Myologist– In addition to physical therapy, we have added an orofacial myologist to our treatment team. As you now know, parafunctional habits can be detrimental to proper growth and function. Which is why it is so important to retrain the muscles of the face and mouth to work correctly and efficiently. In patients where parafunctional habits are present, short sessions with the myologist will compliment the expansion therapy process, where patients will practice and learn simple exercise that will restore proper function of muscles/habits.
By incorporating a co-treatment approach to growth appliance therapy, we can achieve the growth and development we desire, eliminate the dysfunctions causing developmental issues, and relearn proper function of the mouth, teeth, jaws, and airways.
There are hundreds of dental appliances on the market today. However. Most of these appliances do little to nothing about treating the underlying cause. Traditional dentists often recommend sleep appliances that open the airway during sleep to reduce snoring. While this may help the snoring during use, it does nothing to resolve the cause of the snoring. Growth appliance therapy with an experienced dentist does not just open the airway while wearing the appliance, it expands the airway structure, creating a permanent solution.
What is the ideal age for Orthodontic Treatment?
It is great to start orthodontic treatment young while jaw and facial structures are still developing. This can prevent many symptoms before they begin. However, with the help of epigenetics, growth appliance therapy can achieve desirable results in patients of all ages. It is never too late for development.
Can Natural Orthodontics target specific areas or issues?
With the help of Epigenetics, growth appliance therapy will naturally target underdeveloped areas, encouraging the body to grow in the direction it is lagging. We monitor the changes very closely to direct treatment and prevent any unexpected outcomes.
Can Natural Orthodontic Treatment change the way a person looks?
Yes. Growth appliance therapy promotes balanced growth and can improve facial appearance by encouraging growth in the central face region, and in other underdeveloped areas.
How is treatment progress monitored?
Holistic Orthodontic treatment is closely monitored at recurring appliance adjustment appointments through exam, measurements, and photos.
After the recommended treatment length, what is the likelihood of needing additional treatment?
Treatment length depends on many factors, and often depends on patient compliance during treatment. If you are not wearing the appliance for the recommended amount of time, you should not expect to achieve the projected results in the normal treatment time.
Is there a separate cost for each visit?
No, the initial treatment plan fee includes the appliance and all associated appointments. If this changes for any reason, you will be notified prior to any additional fees.
How long does treatment take?
The length of treatment will be determined by patient’s individual needs as well as patient compliance (wearing the appliance as recommended and coming in for regular adjustments) during treatment. Typical orthodontic growth appliance therapy takes 6-18 months.
Is Holistic Orthodontic Treatment covered by Dental Insurance?
This depends on your dental insurance coverage details and your needs. Growth appliance therapy is typically covered under the Orthodontic part of an insurance plan. Because Natural Dentist Associates is an out-of-network office, we can submit claims and accept reimbursement payments from PPO dental plans only. An estimate of insurance reimbursement is included in the treatment plan.
How much does Growth Appliance Therapy cost?
Every patient is different, and every treatment plan is tailored to fit specific patient needs. Because of this, treatment cost can vary greatly. The good news is, once you have been evaluated by a doctor at Natural Dentist Associates, we will be able to provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan that outlines all associated costs specific to your individual needs. Pricing is comparable to traditional orthodontic treatment but provides a more permanent solution.
What is a Holistic Orthodontist?
Holistic orthodontists focus on whole body health and wellness. They understand how teeth and jaw structure and positioning can affect other aspects of a person’s health, and how orthodontic treatment can help with seemingly unrelated issues, such as sleep apnea, tmj dysfunction, headaches, posture problems, and other symptoms.
What makes Natural Orthodontics different?
Traditionally trained orthodontists use fixed braces to apply force, straightening crooked teeth. While this may create a straight smile, it can cause trauma to teeth from applied force, and retract teeth and jaws, creating small mouths with lack of space for the teeth and tongue. Holistic Orthodontists first look at structure and development, making sure to consider posture, breathing, tongue positioning, bite, and sleep in addition to straightening teeth.
What is Epigenetic Orthodontics?
Epigenetic Orthodontics is a field of dentistry that provides non-surgical options to help correct irregularities in facial symmetry, improper bite, and underdeveloped palates of the mouth. Through years of practice and research, it appears that a patient’s genes can be stimulated to change the biological structure of the teeth. As these genes change, it can allow correction and straightening of the teeth without surgery.
Schedule a consultation with Natural Dentist Associates to learn more about Expansion/Growth Appliance Therapy.