With orthodontics, we’re able to correct issues pertaining to the teeth, but with dentofacial orthopedics, we’re able to correct problems in the skeletal structures that surround the teeth, namely the jaws. Often, problems such as an overbite or under bite are actually due to one of the jaws being underdeveloped, and encouraging and guiding their proper growth is the task of dentofacial orthopedics. In the end, they are able to not only correct alignment issues, but also improve the appearance and function of the face at the same time.
As with any orthodontic treatment, starting at an early age is often the key to success because the bones of the face and jaw have yet to fully harden and are easier to manipulate. This is why Dr. Fulks, as well as the American Association of Orthodontists, recommend that a child should have a full orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. By bringing your child to see Dr. Fulks at this stage of development, he’ll be able to determine if orthodontics, dentofacial orthopedics, or a combination of both is needed.
By applying dentofacial orthopedics at a young age, we’re able to ensure the development and relationship between the upper and lower jaw (and the teeth by extension). When the jaw and face are growing like they should, the incoming teeth have plenty of room to come in straight, and a child will have a more attractive smile as well. This also lends itself to better overall oral function, making it easier for a child to learn how to speak and eat properly.
Dentofacial orthopedics can also be essential to helping a child have a clear and open airway in the mouth and throat. Often, if the oral cavity is too small, this can actually prevent a child from breathing normally, particularly during sleep. As a result, a child is unable to get quality sleep, causing them to become hyperactive and have focus issues. This is why it’s extremely common for childhood sleep problems to be misdiagnosed and treated as ADD/ADHD. Fortunately, with the right treatment plan by Dr. Fulks, we can avert all of these issues.
There are many adults who are unhappy with their smile because of the alignment of their upper and lower jaw. Some have even undergone orthodontics to no avail because the actual problem goes beyond the teeth. Addressing these kinds of issues with dentofacial orthopedics is a bit tricky because an adult’s jaw and facial bones have fully hardened, making them much more difficult to adjust. In cases where the jaws cannot be corrected with a regular treatment, Dr. Fulks may recommend that a patient undergo corrective jaw surgery.
Dentofacial orthopedics is a term that is unfamiliar to most people, but for us, it’s just another tool we use to give our patients the beautiful and healthy smiles they deserve.
To learn more about dentofacial orthopedics, or to see if this kind of treatment is right for you or your child, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation today.