Early Functional Orthodontics
This is the treatment employing fixed or removable appliances to correct the size and position of the facial structures and jaws so that teeth can be aligned. This early treatment often eliminates the need for extractions, creates space for teeth to straighten and minimises the need for jaw surgery. This then helps to improve the health, function and appearance of an individual.
The best time to commence treatment to correct the upper jaw position and prevent tooth crowding is usually between the ages of 7-9 years. Normal growth of the lower jaw is dependent on the proper position and size of the upper jaw, and so the lower jaw is usually addressed later. When the child’s jaws have stopped growing, then this type of treatment is not as effective.
For this reason we support the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation that an evaluation of facial and dental development as soon as problems are recognized and no later than age 7.
The are several main goals of treatment
- To develop the upper jaw three dimensionally
- To accommodate the adult teeth without causing overcrowding or crookedness which can compromise oral hygiene
- To allow the lower jaw the space to grow forward ideally without being trapped by a narrow or pushed back upper jaw
- To increase breathing capacity as the upper jaw forms the floor of the nasal passageway
- To increase the space available for the tongue to function ideally
- To broaden the smile and balance facial contours
The video below highlights how a narrow upper jaw is linked with snoring and how expanding the jaw can improve breathing and have wider benefits.
Lower jaw retrusion is not ideal and has the following implications:
- Social implications
- Greater risk of trauma to the upper teeth
- Poor head posture
- Poor airway space
- Increased risk of obstructive sleep apnoea.
Dr Gonsalvez is regularly involved in the management of adult patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea by referral from sleep physicians. She provides Oral Appliances that help stop snoring and manage sleep apnoea by holding the lower jaw forward to open up the airway during sleep. If in a child one can influence growth and development favourably it could potentially prevent the need for sleep appliances at night to treat obstructive Sleep apnoea in adulthood.
Furthermore studies have shown that bimaxillary jaw surgery (that moves both the upper and lower jaw and face forward) is a proven method to manage the increasingly prevalent condition of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. This is invasive jaw surgery to correct what could potentially be prevented and corrected in childhood through Early Functional Orthodontics.
The Steps in the Early Functional Orthodontics Assessment is as follows:
Pre-Treatment – Assessment and Diagnosis
Visit 1 – Assessment -To see how we will be able to help your child
- 10 – 20 minute appointment to visually and functionally assess developmental markers
- Assessment of the completed questionnaire regarding your child
Visit 2 – Records Appointment – Gathering of information – 20mins
- Impressions to make study models of your child teeth
- Referral for x-rays – OPG, lateral x-ray and frontal x-ray (bulk billed by radiology)
Visit 3 – Case Presentation – Explaining what we have found, treatment options, time estimate for treatment and cost.
- 30 minute – We prefer to have child at this presentation
- Once we have the complete picture of your child’s dental and general health, we can tailor the best treatment to facilitate optimal growth, development and aesthetics.