Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz CA
If you had braces as a kid, and now your teeth have shifted and are crooked years later, this is known as orthodontic relapse. It means your teeth didn’t remain in their new alignment after your braces were removed, and there’s a reason why. In this article, your Scotts Valley dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry explore the reasons why orthodontic relapse happens and what to do about it.
Reasons for Orthodontic Relapse
If you’ve ever had braces, you likely received a retainer after the braces came off, were told to wear it regularly, and warned about the consequences. Failure to wear a retainer as recommended can lead to orthodontic relapse, but it’s hardly the only cause.
Other causes, as chronicled in this study, include:
- Poor rest oral posture
- Mouth breathing
- Tongue thrust
- Thumb sucking
One physical cause of orthodontic relapse that does not receive enough attention is orofacial myofunctional disorders, or OMDs, for short.
How does an OMD cause orthodontic relapse?
If you have an OMD, that means there is some disharmony in the way that the muscles of your orofacial system—the mouth and tongue—function. Many people suffer from an orofacial myofunctional disorder develop unconscious habits that are negative to their oral health and development. Thumb sucking is an example of one of these habits.
When you have an OMD, that means the tongue, lips, and jaws are not in the proper resting position. Poor rest oral posture can place excessive force on the orofacial system, leading teeth to change alignment even after you’ve had braces because the root of the problem – the OMD, was never addressed. It’s like rotating the tires on your vehicle without ever getting an alignment. Your tires will seem ok at first, but eventually, a poor alignment will affect how your tires wear.
Other consequences of living with an OMD can include:
- Frequently breathing through the mouth, which has its own list of possible negative impacts
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Improper development of the face and/or jaws
- Increasing the risk of developing temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ disorder
- Difficulty speaking, up to and including a speech impediment
- A greater likelihood of developing sleep apnea
If you have an OMD, it needs to be treated first before undergoing orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, many orthodontists and dentists lack the training to identify these underlying conditions, focusing instead on forcing teeth into the proper alignment without establishing a firm foundation such as proper oral function and posture.
Functional orthodontics is the solution
At Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, we believe orthodontic intervention in early childhood can be a boon to preventing issues later in life—including the need for braces or Invisalign. We prevent orthodontic relapse by identifying and treating those underlying issues. We can perform an evaluation on a child even at a very young age to detect if early intervention is needed. The earlier in life that an OMD is identified and treated, the fewer negative habits can develop and the smaller the impact on overall health and wellness. However, even adults may benefit from treatment for OMDs. Dr. Ariana Ebrahimian is a certified practitioner of Biobloc Orthotropics®, a method of treatment that promotes proper growth guidance of the jaws and face through oral appliance therapy. Addressing these issues early now not only lowers the risk of orthodontic relapse but may eliminate the need for orthodontic treatment later in life.
Orthodontics in Scotts Valley
Whether you would like to schedule an early orthodontic intervention for your child, or you’re an adult who notices your teeth have gotten crooked again after braces, Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry can help. We have a comprehensive orthodontic treatment program that goes far beyond what you find at most other dental practices, as well as myofunctional therapy to treat OMDs. To find out more, schedule your consultation today by calling (831) 438-4411 if you live in the areas of Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California.