Dentofacial Orthopedics

As part of his orthodontic training, Dr. Martinez spent three years studying dentofacial growth and development. This is the branch of dental medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of facial and dental problems including muscles, bones, and supporting tissues of the teeth. Today, using state-of-the-art technology and advanced training, the results of orthodontic and functional jaw orthopedic treatment are predictable and highly successful.

Functional Orthopedic Appliances

These types of appliances utilize the action of the jaws musculature to produce orthodontic and/or orthopedic forces. They help to establish harmony between the upper and lower dental arches by guiding the jaw's development to improve the bite and its functionality. They can be either removable or fixed, depending on the treatment goals and patient's cooperation.

It’s common for children to show early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop, and we must address these problems before orthodontic treatment can begin. An underdeveloped or overdeveloped mandible affects the way the upper and lower teeth meet causing a malocclusion or “bad bite.” An abnormal jaw results in dental spacing problems (crowding, diastemas, crossbite, overbite, open-bite, deep-bite, etc.), and consequently Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders, a common sign of an impaired mastication or chewing.  

In some cases, Phase 1 Treatment involves using orthopedic functional appliances that work with the muscles, tissues, and surrounding structures to aid in bringing your child’s teeth, lips, and jaws into appropriate alignment. One reason we recommend your child’s first orthodontic evaluation at seven years of age is that the optimal period for using these appliances is between 7 and 11. Early treatment and planning now can save your child’s smile later.

Functional orthopedic appliances allow Dr. Martinez to focus on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental-facial irregularities.

Herbst Appliance

In the past, headgear was used to pull back protruding teeth. But in some cases, it’s a recessive lower jaw that makes the front teeth appear to push outward, and headgear doesn’t really address the problem. To help guide the lower jaw forward, we use a device called a Herbst appliance that's cemented in position and works to reposition the jaw.

A Herbst appliance addresses the problem of a recessive jaw, but it is not removable, so it’s always working. Since your child doesn’t have to remember to wear their headgear, compliance is not a problem. For about 15 months, the appliance is fixed over the teeth and may be combined with partial braces. It is later removed and replaced by full braces. Not only does the Herbst appliance move the lower jaw forward, but it also minimizes the amount of time your child needs to spend in full braces.

Palatal Expanders

There are some cases where the lower jaw is not the only problem. Patients who have a recessive lower jaw and a narrow palate also need to have the upper arch widened, so we may decide to add a palatal expander into the design. By expanding the palate, we eliminate any crossbite and align the teeth to improve the correlation between the jaws. A palatal expander is often used to treat a Class III malocclusion where the problem could be a small upper jaw, a large lower jaw, or a combination of both.

Benefits of Functional Appliances

Starting your child’s orthodontic treatment early and in phases often results in more affordable and shorter treatment times. Using functional appliances can also eliminate the need for tooth extraction before treatment and minimize the time your child must spend in braces. By obtaining adequate sized jaws the chances of requiring orthognathic (jaw) surgery in the future are reduced.

Please Call Us for An Appointment

There’s a lot to think about when planning orthodontic treatment for your child. You can trust that Dr. Martinez will thoroughly answer all your questions and provide the crucial information you will need to help your child get the most out of treatment.

Please call today to arrange an orthodontic consultation at our Miami dental office!