By Larry Pribyl, DDS
Everyone would like to have straight, perfect teeth. Not only for the way it enhances our smiles but our overall health is improved when our teeth are aligned and we are able to chew properly.
Most parents will consider orthodontics if their child’s permanent teeth are coming in “crooked.” Did you ever wonder how or why this happens to some children and not to others? It has been assumed for years that malocclusion (crooked teeth) is an entirely genetic condition. You are born with either too many, too few or the right number of teeth to fill the dental arches.
Without good scientific data, this assumption has persisted relatively unchallenged. Some treatment options include extracting teeth in order to make room to straighten the rest. Few ever questioned why skulls examined over 1000 years ago showed perfectly aligned teeth that even included the wisdom teeth! In modern societies, malocclusion is approaching 85% and the reason is relatively unknown in all but 5% of cases. The research we are studying and the information we read point to the alignment of our teeth and the size of our jaws being related to the way we breathe; mouth breathing verses nasal breathing, the posture of our tongue and our diet.
Methods used to align crooked teeth developed over the years by using mechanical forces and, in many cases, extracting teeth to make room. Usually after treatment, retainers need to be worn indefinitely. Obviously, treatment cannot begin until the permanent teeth have erupted. With the use of functional appliances, treatment can begin earlier during the growth spurt aiming at moving the lower jaws forward by pulling back on the upper jaw with a mechanical action. After this, braces are placed to align the teeth.
A Different Approach – Orthotropics
Orthotropics represent a new way of looking at crooked teeth. Instead of seeing them in isolation, they are viewed as part of the head and neck, and in relation to other problems such as breathing, body posture, jaw joint problems and ENT issues. Orthotropics is a science that has developed by going back to a blank canvas and assessing what we do know, to generate a science based on the evidence that has aetiology, epidemiology, pathology and cure, as well as just treatments. Although heredity plays a role in facial growth, environmental factors cannot be ignored. Orthotropics works on influencing this component to gain permanent changes in our growth and development.
Orthotropic therapy aims to correct the growth of the face and jaws, by affecting the most likely causes (the muscle tone, posture and function). The idea is to promote a relatively more horizontal growth, normalizing the shape of the facial skeleton and providing space for the teeth to align naturally and the tongue to come up out of the airway giving an individual the opportunity to normalize their oral, head and neck posture, and breathing. Orthotropics is not a method of treatment, but a philosophy and any treatment that gains a positive change in the direction of facial growth or increases the horizontal craniofacial dimension is consistent with the philosophy.
Orthotropics has its greatest success for children ages 6-10 years old. Would someone you know benefit from this treatment? Our office offers an initial complimentary orthodontic/orthotropic evaluation. Call us at 816-795-1000.
Larry Pribyl, DDS, has been in private practice over thirty five years. He has his Master of Excellence: American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, he is a Diplomate: American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, and a Diplomate: Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines. He specializes in treating head, neck, and facial pain as well as dental sleep medicine. His training comes from experts in these fields where he has acquired hundreds of continuing education hours in post graduate studies.