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How is Functional Orthopedic Orthodontics Different?

Deciding to undergo a treatment plan to straighten teeth, whether for cosmetic reasons or for functionality, can be daunting. There are many niches within the field of orthodontics, and it can be a challenge to evaluate them all before making a decision.

The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics reports that orthodontics has been around for more than 2,000 years. In fact, archaeologists have discovered the remains of ancient people with bands wrapped around teeth in what they believe was some of the earliest examples of orthodontic treatment.

Over time, many different approaches to this specialized area of dentistry have developed. Some focus on the cosmetic appearance and dental displacement, while others focus on facial structure and growth. 

Looking at the Big Picture

One of the biggest differences between the conventional and functional approaches to orthodontics is that conventional orthodontics looks at things from a strictly cosmetic point of view, according to Dr. David Buck, DDS, an innovative orthodontist in the Seattle area who specializes in functional orthodontics.

"Functional orthodontics looks at the jaws, including the joints and muscles, and the teeth and how they all work together," he said. "If something is off with one of these factors, your appearance, comfort and health can all be compromised."

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment. According to Buck, his approach to orthodontics using epigenetic science has the potential to help those suffering from TMJ disorder-related pain such as headaches and migraines in addition to obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.

Epigenetics to Develop the Jaw

In traditional orthodontic practice, tooth extraction is sometimes deemed necessary by the treating orthodontist in order to make room to straighten teeth properly. Buck believes that a better way to make room is to correct patients' underdeveloped jaws and narrow dental arches. His practice, Balance Epigenetic Orthodontics, specializes in using epigenetic science to regrow the jaw before using more common orthodontic methods such as braces to straighten the teeth. 

"Using an oral appliance, we help the jaw reach its full genetic potential," he said. "This widens the dental arches naturally to allow more room for not only a straighter smile after orthodontic treatment, but also more room for air flow and a superior alignment of the jaw."

According to the online resource Live Science, epigenetics literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off."

In dentistry, this refers to triggering the body’s natural ability to grow and restructure the jaws without surgery or other invasive methods, Buck said.

"Crowded teeth, TMJ and obstructive sleep apnea are all symptoms of underdeveloped jaws, meaning the jaws did not grow to their full size during development," he said.

Buck believes his treatment methods can trigger bone growth in both children and adults so the jaw can grow to its full potential.

 

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