Functional orthodontics, also known as orthopedic orthodontics or orthotropics, is a specialized approach to orthodontic treatment that focuses not only on aligning teeth (like traditional orthodontics) but also on addressing the underlying causes of misalignment of the jaws and teeth (malocclusion). There are many reasons why you might be a candidate for this type of comprehensive treatment.
Differences Between Functional Orthodontics and Traditional Orthodontics
The primary goal of functional orthodontics is to guide the growth and development of your jaws to achieve better facial balance and a more harmonious bite. Here are some key differences between functional orthodontics and traditional orthodontic treatment.
- Functional orthodontics: This is a holistic approach to treatment, aiming to correct the entire craniofacial complex (jaws, facial bones, and teeth). The focus is on promoting proper facial growth and encouraging the jaws to develop to their full potential. It aims to address the underlying skeletal issues that contribute to malocclusion, such as narrow jaws, underdeveloped lower jaw, or improper bite.
- Traditional orthodontics: This treatment primarily concentrates on straightening the teeth by using braces or aligners. The main focus is on aligning teeth within the existing jaw structure, without necessarily altering the growth pattern of the jaws.
Age of Intervention:
- Functional orthodontics: Starts at a younger age, typically during childhood or early adolescence when the jawbones are still developing and more responsive to guidance. Early intervention may help prevent more complex orthodontic issues later in life.
- Traditional orthodontics: Can be applied at various ages, depending on the individual's orthodontic needs and jaw development. It’s commonly used during adolescence, but adults can also benefit from traditional orthodontic treatment.
- Functional orthodontics: This treatment may involve the use of special appliances designed to guide jaw growth. Some functional orthodontic techniques also utilize removable appliances to promote proper oral muscle function.
- Traditional orthodontics: Typically, fixed braces (metal or ceramic) or clear aligners (such as Invisalign) are used to move teeth into their desired positions.
It's important to note that both functional orthodontics and traditional orthodontic treatments have their respective benefits and applications. The choice of treatment approach depends on the individual's orthodontic needs, age, jaw development, and the expertise of the orthodontist.