Orthotropics is an early prevention, non-extraction, and non-surgical orthodontic treatment dealing with correct growth of the face and jaws. It is an alternative to retraction orthodontic mechanics and symptom care and instead of pulling the top jaw back, as some orthodontic procedures do, they encourage the bottom jaw to grow horizontally after the top jaw growth has been corrected. The treatment is focused on preventing further lengthening of an already too long face, due to the maxilla being unsupported, and is based on facial beauty rather than straight teeth alone.
What are malocclusion and facial change?
Malocclusion refers to a misalignment between the upper and lower teeth (i.e. the way these teeth fit together when biting or chewing). The condition can be described as crowded, crooked or protruding teeth and is also referred to as an “irregular bite”, “crossbite”, “overbite” or “overjet”. The facial complex is responsible for such functions as eating, swallowing, speaking, aerating the inner ear, filtering incoming air and maintaining an airway. Abnormal development of the face affects all of these functions, causes poorly aligned teeth, and impairs appearance. 30% of children in the U.K. experience malocclusion that is serious to warrant treatment. Thousands of children require surgery every year. In its most serious form, Malocclusion is often associated with jaw joint problems, infection, airway obstruction, sleep apnea, congenital malformation (i.e. malformation of the facial complex) and ENT problems. A well-proportioned and mechanically sound face is a healthy, functioning face. Intervention at an early age can prevent the development of the problems associated with Malocclusion. Orthotropics treats the causes, not the symptoms. Orthotropics aims to make the face fit the teeth, not the teeth fit the face.
What are its causes?
We have identified three main causes of facial change:
• Weak jaw muscles
• Lowered tongue position
• Incorrect swallowing
Children who have week jaw muscles, hang their mouths open with a low tongue posture and suck their teeth inwards every time that they swallow, develop longer faces with crowded teeth. This negatively effects the development of the face.
What is Orthotropics Treatment?
The orthotropic method aims to provide space for all teeth, including wisdom teeth, by improving muscle tone, correcting facial posture and swallowing training. These factors determine the direction of facial development, and treatment should be aimed at treating the cuases. This is achieved by wearing a discrete brace that discourages patients from dropping their mouths open and by Oral Myology training (exercises that correct muscle function and swallowing). The goal is to convert vertical growth into horizontal growth (see image) in order to provide space for the teeth to align naturally. During treatment tongue space more than doubles, allowing the natural conversion to an adult swallowing pattern to take place. The effect is dramatic and permanent. Orthotropics is an early prevention, non-extraction, and non-surgical method. Natural growth guidance is non-intrusive: there is no need for “railway track” braces, extractions, headgear, surgery or retainers. This is not to be confused with functional treatment, and is in no way similar to a Twin blocks, Herbst or Damon appliance.
How is Orthotropics different from Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the traditional approach of aligning teeth. Orthodontists consider growth of the face to be relatively unchangeable, employing a method that mechanically pushes the teeth into alignment through the use of “railway track” braces and removable appliances. To provide necessary space, Orthodontists either extract or pull back teeth with headgear. Other methods include the widening of the dental arches. In severe cases, surgery is recommended. This can involve cutting the jaw into separate sections and then screwing them into the “correct” position. At the end of treatment, results must be held into place indefinitely with retainers. Concerns have been raised about the damage inflicted on the facial complex (e.g. narrowing of the airway, impairing facial appearance) by such techniques. Orthodontics often causes damage to the roots and enamel of teeth. Orthotropics is the preventative approach, treating the causes and not the symptoms of Malocclusion. The Orthotropic method aligns teeth through natural growth guidance, which is an early prevention, non-extraction, and non-surgical method. Treatment consists of guiding facial growth naturally through muscle strengthening exercises, posture improvement and non-intrusive, discrete orthotropic appliances. Patients complete treatment with permanently straight teeth. No retainers are necessary to maintain results.
What are the benefits of Orthotropic treatment?
A well-developed face is a functioning, healthy, and appealing face. Orthotropics improves the general function of the face as well as appearance. The treatment resolves problems related to breathing, swallowing, sleep apnea and irregular teeth. There is also evidence to suggest that improving the health and shape of the face reduces jaw joint problems, upper neck and back problems, speech problems, and most ENT problems, such as sinusitis, glue ear and middle ear infections. Children and adults with healthy, functioning faces enjoy lifelong benefits, including all those that come with a confident, beautiful smile.