Orthotropics has traditionally been used exclusively for children, usually under the age of 9. It is a system of guiding growth and without growth it was difficult to affect the shape of the adult facial skeleton. However there has been intense pressure over the last few years to provide solutions for adults.
It has been observed that adult faces are quite susceptible to damage from inappropriate orthodontic treatment or changes in the muscle strength from problems such as strokes (see images). Also experimental work such as Harold’s showed that when an uncomfortable wedge of plastic was sutured to the roof of the mouth forcing the tongue to be lowered the maxilla dropped at the same rate in adults as growing monkeys. In addition the work of Dr Dean Howell, an osteopath in the California, Dr Yasu Mitani, a dentist in Tokyo, Eva Fraser, a facial trainer in London, and Dr Theodore Belfor, a dentist in New York, all suggested that some change was possible.
Since orthotropics was gaining the best facial changes yet seen in children, the search is now on to modify the method and concept to reproduce these changes in adults. The problems are not insurmountable and an index of older individuals treated previously with orthotropics is given at the end of the page. One of the problems has been that adults are understandably reluctant to wear the training appliances for the required 20 hours a day, and it is harder to teach an old dog new tricks. As any physiotherapist can attest to, changing posture or muscle tone in an adult is an exceptionally difficult undertaking.
However, an underlying premise within orthodontic theory is that function follows form and that posture follows function. So if a rapid and notable change in form can be gained, that allows a change in posture to stabilise it a permanent change will have occurred. If this could be repeated several times by an individual committed to changing their oral and body posture then it may be possible for larger changes to occur.