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What is Dentofacial Orthopedics? A Guide to Achieving a Perfect Smile

What is Dentofacial Orthopedics? A Guide to Achieving a Perfect Smile

Learn all about dentofacial orthopedics and why it is so important for straightening teeth

Dentofacial orthopedics is a specialized branch of dentistry dedicated to harmonizing your facial structure and improving your dental health. As a child grows, their jaw and surrounding bones of the mouth often grow crookedly. This can often result in various dental and orthodontic issues. In this article, we will delve into the role of dentofacial orthopedics in transforming your smile and face and why you should consider dentofacial orthopedics.

What is dentofacial orthopedics?

Orthodontists are skilled in straightening and aligning teeth and achieving a proper fitting bite, but orthodontists also specialize in dentofacial orthopedics. Dentofacial orthopedics uses appliances to help guide mouth and facial growth in order to better align and house the teeth with a better structure of the face and jaw.

Dentofacial orthopedics focuses on diagnosing and treating abnormalities in the growth and development of the face and jaws. By utilizing various techniques such as braces, clear aligners, and functional appliances, orthodontics can correct misaligned bites, straighten teeth, and create a balanced facial profile. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, which reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Whether you are looking to correct a dental issue or enhance your appearance, dentofacial orthopedics can help you achieve a great smile.

Dentofacial orthopedics is one of twelve specializations within the field of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).

The twelve different specializations include:

  1. Periodontist - gum health
  2. Endodontist - tooth pain, root canals
  3. Orthodontist and dentofacial orthopedist - straightening teeth and bite
  4. Pediatric dentist - dentistry for children
  5. Prosthodontist - dental restoration
  6. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon - oral surgery
  7. Oral and maxillofacial pathliogist - diagnose oral diseases
  8. Oral and maxillofacial radiliogist - diagnose diseases via imaging
  9. Dental public health - oral health advocates
  10. Dentist Anesthesiliogist - manage pain during surgery / procedures
  11. Orofacial Pain - manage pain disorders of jaw, face, mouth, head, and neck
  12. Oral medicine - treatment of conditions affecting oral and maxillofacial region

Common dental issues that can be corrected with orthopedics

Dentofacial orthopedics treats malocclusion of the teeth often caused by genetics, which includes narrow or wide jaws, underdeveloped or overdeveloped jaws, bad digital/ thumb habits, oral muscular dysfunction, or poor facial symmetry, among other issues.

The Importance of Dentofacial Orthopedics

Dentofacial Orthopedics is all about the orthodontist guiding your facial structure in a way that helps all of your adult teeth fit together as well as possible before using braces and other orthodontic appliances later in the alignment phases.

Think of dentofacial orthopedics as a kind of training wheels for your teeth, mouth, and jaw. Some people have a really small palate. When the adult teeth eventually come in, there will most likely be issues of crowding and poor function due to a lack of space and teeth coming together poorly. Dr. Skarin can use an appliance that can help expand the palate so that once your adult teeth come in, there will be an increase in space which can mean braces will take much less time to touch up the alignment that is needed.

Getting your child in to see Dr. Skarin as the first baby teeth are beginning to be lost, around age 7 to 8 can save you a lot of money, time, and discomfort.

Can Adults Benefit From Dentofacial Orthopedics?

Adults frequently come into the office with pain in their mouth and jaw. If jaw problems are not corrected by an orthodontist in childhood there can be problems as an adult.

Some of the more common problems and issues adults have include:

The ideal time for dentofacial orthopedics is when children are growing since their jaws, palate, and other cranial and facial sutures are still modifiable before fully calcifying in their mid-teens. Following those years, structures will not be modifiable, but can still be changed through other means but will be more involved and more difficult. Concerning the TMJ issues adults frequently deal with, Dr. Skarin is skilled at treating TMJ problems with non-surgical solutions and has trained with one of the foremost experts in the area of TMJ pain, joint dysfunction and treatment options. Rarely, if pain or problems are severe enough, orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery) or joint surgery could be an option that Dr. Skarin may recommend, but only as an absolute last resort.

Dentofacial Orthopedic Appliances and Treatment Options

An orthodontist has many different dentofacial orthopedic tools at their disposal to fix bite problems. Here are some of the most common appliances that Dr. Skarin uses to help treat his patients:

How Dentofacial Orthopedics Work

Since dentofacial orthopedics targets the bone structure of your jaw and face, treatment consists of different kinds of appliances that are applied to your mouth or jaw. You can think of these appliances a bit like a splint or cast. It is applied in order to apply pressure or restrict movement so that as the child grows the structures of the jaw, mouth, and face, grow into ideal positions for when their adult teeth come in.

For example, Dr. Skarin may use a palate expander, which is an appliance that is applied across the roof of your child's mouth. This expander stays on the top of the mouth throughout the day and for many weeks and months depending on how much the upper palate of your child's mouth needs to be expanded to correct the transverse bite relationship, and as a bonus, make more room for the adult teeth. As your child grows, the expanded palate will grow and form while maintaining the proper relationship with the growing lower arch and assure the best relationship for the erupting permanent teeth to fit.

The palate expander is just one example of a dentofacial appliance, but they all function similarly in guiding growth of your child's mouth and jaw.

Who Is the Best Candidate for Dentofacial Orthopedics?

Children are the best candidate for dentofacial orthopedics. This is due to the fact that our jaws are still growing at an early age. By using dentofacial orthopedics as the jaw grows, we are able to guide the growth into the direction they need to be. This is why it is important to get your child into an orthodontist. It may seem to make sense to wait until all the adult teeth come in, but in truth, the clinical results will be superior and less compromised when done early and your costs will be much lower long term by bringing your child in for an orthodontic dentofacial orthopedic evaluation. Dr. Skarin guides the growth of your child's mouth in order to make treatment with Skarin System, braces, or aligners much faster and much cheaper than if you wait until after the adult teeth come in.

Dr. Skarin suggests bringing your child in for orthodontic evaluation near age seven. At this point, he will be able to get a good idea of what issues will need to be intercepted before all the adult teeth come in. We cannot stress enough how important it is to bring your child in. It is not a sales pitch. Dr. Skarin's evaluations are complimentary, so please schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience. Even if it looks like the primary teeth are in good alignment, there may still be issues of the bite and/or jaw that will cause problems when the adult teeth come in. One statement is always true: if the baby teeth look perfect with no spaces between them, almost like an ideal adult smile, you will have problems as the permanent teeth start coming in!

The impact of dentofacial orthopedics on overall oral health

Dentofacial orthopedics can have many benefits including:

We cannot stress enough just how important dentofacial orthopedics can be to your child's future health. We want to point out that at Skarin Orthodontics, if you bring your child in for dentofacial orthopedics and then come in several years later and braces are needed, Dr. Skarin deducts the cost of the dentofacial orthopedics from the cost of braces. We want to reward our patients for doing right by their children's health by bringing them in at an earlier age. You benefit by paying less long term and we benefit by having a less severe case to treat. Dr. Skarin is well skilled in very difficult cases, but a less difficult case means your child's adult teeth will have a much better chance of being straightened without any compromises.

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