SCOTTS VALLEY, SANTA CRUZ, CA
The focus of orthodontics is to address misaligned teeth. While traditional orthodontics does just that, it doesn’t address the underlying cause or poor oral habit that caused the issue in the first place. However, functional orthodontics takes a unique approach to straighten teeth. Not only do functional orthodontics help bring teeth into proper alignment, but there’s also an emphasis on correcting unfavorable oral behaviors or habits that could later result in orthodontic relapse if ignored. So today on the blog, our Scotts Valley dentists share four reasons to love functional orthodontics.
Uses neuromuscular dentistry
Neuromuscular dentistry is the study of how the teeth, tongue, and orofacial muscles work together, are affected by shifts or changes in teeth alignment, and how dental treatments affect other aspects of one’s health like breathing, airway, and jaw joint function. Not all dentists are qualified to provide neuromuscular dentistry. However, at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, our Scotts Valley neuromuscular dentists have undergone extensive education at the Las Vegas Institute (LVI Global) to provide comprehensive dental care with a physiological approach. Treating malocclusions or crooked teeth is about more than just using braces to apply gentle force, shifting teeth where you need them to be. Instead, a neuromuscular dentist uses specific techniques and treatments to harvest the patient’s full growth potential so that the jaws grow to their maximum size, allowing enough room on each dental arch to straighten teeth. And additional treatments help resolve orofacial myofunctional disorders so that you can maintain your orthodontic results.
Suitable for younger children
In traditional orthodontics, a child’s first evaluation should occur around age 7. However, functional orthodontics can be helpful to children as young as 4 or 5 years old. Addressing their jaw growth and poor oral habits at this age can help avoid the need for traditional braces later on or shorten the duration of their treatment, should they need it. When it comes to functional orthodontics and habit correction, the earlier the treatment begins, the better it is to overcome the challenges a child may face when correcting oral behaviors. While older children can benefit from functional orthodontics, it may take longer to correct oral habits as they have spent more years adapting to their behaviors. As the saying goes, “old habits die hard.” But correcting oral behaviors is not impossible, even in older children or adults.
Avoids extracting healthy teeth
Because functional orthodontics helps promote jaw bone and palate growth, it often reduces or avoids the need to extract healthy teeth, which is often used in traditional orthodontics. Many orthodontists recommend pulling healthy teeth because there isn’t enough room in the dental arch if teeth are crowded to straighten the teeth. Therefore, the dentist may recommend extracting two healthy teeth in a single dental arch to make enough room. The problem with this approach is that it does nothing to address the hindered jaw bone development. A narrow or recessed jaw could result in a narrow airway that causes open mouth posture, mouth breathing, snoring, and sleep apnea. With this approach, the patient may have straight teeth, but they are left with a slue of other health and aesthetic problems. Functional orthodontics, however, does not require the extraction of healthy teeth.
Encourages proper oral rest posture and breathing habits
Oral rest posture refers to your mouth and tongue position when at rest. That is when you’re not eating or speaking. Take a moment to observe yourself while reading this article. Is your mouth open or closed? Where is your tongue resting? How are you breathing – through your mouth or nose? Proper oral rest posture means that the teeth are together, lips closed, and the tongue gently rests along the roof of the mouth while breathing nasally. If your oral posture is anything but that, you’re doing it wrong, and poor oral habits or hindered jaw growth could be to blame. Functional orthodontics can help teach kids proper oral rest posture and encourage nasal breathing, which is best for their growth and development. Plus, proper oral posture and nasal breathing look more attractive than mouth breathing, with your lower jaw gaping open constantly.
Functional Orthodontics in Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, and Los Gatos
Functional orthodontics is a physiological approach to straighten teeth, and the sooner you get started, the better the results. If you’d like to learn more about functional orthodontics for kids or want to know the best age for kids to get braces, contact Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry by calling (831) 438-4411 to schedule a consultation.