Orthopedic Orthodontics Can Correct a Misaligned Jaw and Other Issues
Orthopedic orthodontics aims to expand the jaw or move it into proper position to eliminate pain or discomfort and other symptoms. By addressing misalignment or an underdeveloped jaw, orthopedic orthodontics offers a practical approach to not only straighten a patient’s teeth but better align them with the muscles and temporomandibular joints (TMJs). There are very few dentists in the state who are trained in this specialized field. We are proud to have Dr. Gary Dempsey, a highly trained fellow of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, leading our Oklahoma City, OK, dental team.
Traditional Orthodontics Vs. Orthopedic Orthodontics
Traditional orthodontics is retractive, meaning it pulls the teeth and jaw back towards the ears. Correcting crooked or turned teeth is the primary objective. Orthopedic orthodontics, however, takes the airways and jaw joints into account in this process.
A balanced bite is critical at all ages and treatment at an early age assists in developing a healthy smile.
When patients present with a receding lower jaw bone, traditional orthodontic treatments can cause a narrowing of the maxilla and mandible (upper and lower arch). This can cause airway restriction, which may result in breathing difficulties. Orthopedic orthodontics addresses cosmetic and functional components.
What Disorders are Treated with Orthopedic Orthodontics?
When the jaws are not properly aligned, it can lead to more advanced health issues such as sleep apnea, TMJ disorder, or headaches and generalized craniofacial pain. Chronic headache sufferers report long-term relief from orthopedic orthodontic treatment.
Many functional habits may indicate that your jaw joints and bite are misaligned, including:
- Tongue thrusting
- Improper tongue posture
- Abnormal swallowing patterns
- Jaw clenching and grinding
These habits are commonly discovered in young children. Dr. Dempsey has treated patients from five to 80 years old, and we encourage parents to visit us if they suspect their child requires treatment. A balanced bite is critical at all ages and treatment at an early age assists in developing a healthy smile.
At your first appointment, Dr. Dempsey will perform a full exam of the head and neck area. He will determine the best treatment plan and discuss each step with you. Orthopedic orthodontics treatment takes place in stages. Treatment is designed to slowly move the facial bones over time, then stabilize the bones in a permanent position.
To begin the two-part treatment, crowding and narrow, vaulted arches are treated with orthopedic appliances such as splints, expanders, or the Ancell Trampoline. These orthotics work with the body’s natural functions of chewing, swallowing, and proper tongue placement to create wider dental arches.
Expansion devices move the bones with light pressure over time. This phase of treatment takes approximately six to 12 months and success directly correlates with patient compliance. Patients who wear the prescribed appliances as directed each day complete treatment faster.
After functional and skeletal problems have been addressed, traditional braces or Invisalign® are placed to align the teeth and hold the newly positioned bones and joints in place. This phase typically takes about 10 months.
Benefits of Orthopedic Orthodontic Treatment
The combination of these two phases of treatment often results in aesthetic benefits, in addition to improved breathing, relief of sleep apnea, or chronic headaches.
Common aesthetic benefits patients report include:
- Fuller, broader smile
- Fuller lips
- Youthful appearance
- Non-surgical facelift with reduction of jowls and sagging skin
- More pleasing profile and elimination of deep lower lip creases and overbites