Growth Focused Orthodontics

Most people are familiar with traditional orthodontic treatments, like metal braces and Invisalign, but they are not aware of the alternative method.  Using growth focused orthodontics,  orofacial myofunctional therapy combined with Myobrace and expanders, we can often stop orthodontic problems before they progress to more complex issues.

Growth Focused Orthodontics is a phased type of orthodontics where growth is utilized to correct developmental occlusal problems. With growth focused
orthodontics, children are treated at much earlier ages to take advantage of continuing growth. Patients at this age tend to be more receptive to, and compliant with treatment.

Parents and patients need to understand that when this type of orthodontics is performed there is usually more than one phase of treatment. Phase two will most often begin when all the permanent teeth are in place. Going through phases allows for the second phase to be shorter in duration, since the major corrections happened in the interceptive orthodontics phase.

Common Causes of Unfavorable Growth

Early Signs to Look for in your Child

Treatment Options:

Important Background Information:

Growth and Development of the Facial Bones

It seems most of our children these days are developing crowded teeth and their jaws are developing incorrectly.  Crowded teeth do not just happen.  They are a symptom as well as a warning sign.

In proper growth and development, the tongue lives in the roof of the mouth. The constant but gentle pressure of the tongue expands and advances the maxilla, or the upper arch.  As the upper arch moves forward, the lower grows with it. This allows for the proper favorable growth that we want to see in all children. The other important component of proper growth is breathing through the nose with our lips sealed at rest. These three things (tongue in the roof of the mouth, nasal breathing, and lips sealed at rest) make up the proper healthy oral rest posture. Without all of these things, proper growth is not likely to happen.  Even though it is never too late to begin correcting growth problems, the younger someone starts the better the potential outcomes.

Did you know?

The width and position of the upper jaw determines how far forward the lower jaw can go. At age 4, the facial skeleton has reached 60% of its adult size; by age 12, 90% of facial growth has occurred. There is no reason to wait until 90% of growth has occurred.

When teeth come in crooked, it is better to develop the jaws as young as possible — this will allow the space needed for permanent teeth.

Unfavorable Growth:

Mouth Breathing, Tongue Position, And Improper Swallow

Mouth Breathing

The need to take our next breath is the strongest driving factor in our body. Our body will do whatever it takes to make sure that we get the next breath.  We are specifically designed to breathe through our nose. The nose filters and humidifies air before it enters our lungs.

Mouth breathing is an abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs.  It is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face.  Mouth breathing can cause poor growth patterns, more trips to the doctor for sickness, TMJ problems, and in extreme cases, even sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing (SDB).

The problem with mouth breathing even beyond these health concerns is that it is nearly impossible to have the tongue in the roof of the mouth while mouth breathing. This prevents the tongue from driving the growth of the face in the way it is designed to which then results in narrow upper arches.

Tongue Position

The proper resting tongue position is in the roof of the mouth.  When placed here, the tongue applies pressure to the palate to form the upper dental arch and nasal cavity.  When the tongue isn’t in the roof of the mouth, it often falls down and back into the airway.  This restricts the amount of airflow, which can lead to many problems especially during sleep.  Tongue ties and low tongue tone are often times the underlying causes for improper tongue position.

Tongue Ties

The tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth with a frenulum.  When the frenulum attachment prevents the tongue from reaching the roof of the mouth, it is considered a tongue tie. A common reason kids have unfavorable growth is because they are tongue tied.  When the tongue is tied and can’t properly get to the roof of the mouth, the other muscles of the face will pull the face in and back causing improper growth. Tongue ties can easily be released to allow the tongue to function properly and to develop the face.

Improper Swallow

Improper swallowing can result in tongue thrusting, speech problems and other muscular imbalances that may produce enough pressure to move teeth out of normal positions and change the structure of the face.  If you see the lips purse, the skin on the chin wrinkle up, and/or the head bob forward during swallowing, there is a tongue thrust underneath.

Various orthodontic treatments are available to help correct these parafunctional habits — and the sooner they’re taken care of, the less damage they may cause. But these potential problems aren’t always easy to recognize. That’s one more reason why you should bring your child in for an early screening.

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