A red orthodontic expander placed on a dental model

Dentofacial Orthopedics

Dentofacial Orthopedics


Managment of tooth movement to guide facial growth and development

What is Dentofacial Orthopedics, the term in addition to Orthodontics you may have seen when looking at the title given for the specialty Dr. Skarin practices? Dentofacial orthopedics refers to the guidance of facial growth and development that will occur, for the most part, during childhood and adolescence. During this period of growth, treatment can actually influence how the structural aspects of the face can be changed to improve the relationships between the jaws and help develop a normal occlusion (bite).

In order to effect these changes, appliances are often used, most often in an early, or first phase, of treatment. While braces are used selectively, headgear, expanders, space maintainers and other arch developing appliances as well as other functional appliances that could involve both dental arches of teeth are employed to influence how the patient’s face will grow. While these appliances are usually started before full braces are placed to align the teeth, it is not uncommon to see both braces and headgear being used while growth of the face is continuing.

Some of these problems include the following:

  • Skeletal underbites (prognathia)
  • Overjet (skeletal retognathia)
  • Transverse skeletal problems (crossbites)
  • Anterior and posterior open bites
  • Digital (finger/thumb) or tongue habits
  • Because of this ability to effect significant changes in the ongoing development of the face, it is important that children be seen early in their development so an appropriate treatment plan can be formed to attain the best possible long-term result. Generally, it is recommended that by age seven, a child be seen if there is any hint that the bite is not developing properly.

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