A jaw imbalance can impact quality of life for a patient of any age, but we consider it arguably most important to consider Functional Jaw Orthopedics (FJO) Appliances when problems are detected between roughly Ages 3 and 8 years old. At that point, our youngest patients are still in the prime of their jaw growth, when gradually adapting treatment can still help avoid necessary extractions of teeth in later years.
More specifically, a human body completes 60% of its jaw growth by 6 years of age and 90% of its jaw growth by 9 years of age. Prior to that, FJO Treatments can guide and correct ideal growth, development and positioning of the airway, teeth, and jaws. To be clear, an FJO examination can highlight any possible risks caused by incorrect jaw positioning for adolescent all the way up to senior patients also, while forming the basis a sound treatment plan.
During an FJO examination, we will be keeping a discerning eye out for several major sets of symptoms indicating a skeletal growth discrepancy or malocclusion. Keep in mind, as either a patient or parent, that several less-obvious symptoms beyond what we detect during an oral checkup or from X-rays can also indicate improper jaw formation. Please note the several symptoms that may not immediately seem to be obviously associated with a jaw-related condition.
Nature’s blueprint, when followed as intended, calls for teeth to erupt with such placement and timing that the surrounding teeth can likewise grow and develop with the ideal positioning intended for them to fit and comfortably do their jobs alongside their neighbors. We can observe the positions in which baby teeth emerge and extrapolate based on any visible crowding whether permanent teeth will develop with problematic spacing. That’s our window of opportunity to explore FJO Treatments and other options to reduce crowding before it creates discomfort and other problems that can’t be fixed without extracting permanent teeth.
Issues can become similarly severe if incisor or molar spacing issues occurring roughly before the 6 years of age aren’t addressed in a timely fashion. Gaps in a bite between the top and bottom incisors can be a dead giveaway to a wrong swallowing pattern such as tongue thrust, which can later cause a gap between the front teeth that won’t allow them to touch. Elsewhere, losing a molar prematurely requires that the space be kept open, lest a migration of teeth toward that void should leave incoming permanent teeth with no space of their own.
Parents and dentists together can curtail a number of conditions that cause significant extra wear on teeth in addition to their daily functionality.
A retruded lower jaw set too far back can cause nocturnal grinding of the teeth during sleep, which can lead a deficient airway and inadequate oxygen. A lower jaw set too far back can also cause unusually large, protruding buck-teeth by the 8 years of age.
The lower isn’t always the only culprit of a developed grinding habit. The upper jaw can sometimes limit the lower jaw to a position further back than naturally intended. The resulting grinding pressure can eventually produce badly worn-down incisors if the lower jaw’s position isn’t corrected early.
A number of conditions make jaw-positioning issues apparent without symptoms being limited to presenting in the teeth, jaws, or TMJ.
For example, young children generally do not snore habitually. If your child does, the habit may be caused by the adenoids or tonsils constricting the airway, but it could also be caused by an underdeveloped lower jaw restricting air-flow.
When the lower jaw is retruded, the awkward position subjects the TMJ and ears to constant pressure. This can cause not only excessive buildup of earwax but also painful, recurrent earaches.
Chronic allergies, enlarged tonsils and adenoids and chronic upper airway obstructions in general can result in constant mouth-breathing. In younger children, this can decrease facial-muscle tone and cause the mouth to remain constantly open, which can eventually lead to skeletal jaw anomalies such as tooth crowding along a constricted upper arch, a retruded lower, craniofacial deformities, dental crowding, and malocclusions. Speech therapists, Dentists and orthodontists consider a functional jaw orthopedic approach a vital tool in returning children to nose breathing before these developmental issues can gain a foothold.
Overall, a Functional Jaw Orthopedic Exam can unearth and point the way toward addressing a wide spectrum of symptoms and conditions:
|○ Airway function○ Allergies
○ Ear aches and related problems
○ Ear infections
○ Finger habits (thumb and finger sucking)
If you’ve observed any of these symptoms in your child, separately or together, then don’t wait another day. Contact us immediately to schedule an FJO Exam. When detected early, we can often treat jaw-placement problems gradually as your child grows, with minimal discomfort and few (if any) extractions of teeth.