When we diagnose jaw-positioning issues early in childhood bone development, we have golden opportunities to correct them gradually on pace with natural bone growth and without extracting teeth.
The upper and lower jaw facial development is 60% complete by age 6 and 90% complete by age 9. This is why it is important to start functional jaw orthopedics (aka. FJO, maxillo-facial orthopedics, ALF for kids) as soon as the upper and lower jaw imbalance is detected. The sooner the upper and lower jaw mal-relationship can be detected, the sooner the normal growth pattern can be re-established.
Functional Jaw Orthopedic (FJO) Appliances allow the regular growth pattern to be re-established by placing light, gentle force on the gums, bone and teeth, which in turns stimulates the bone development. Functional jaw orthopedic treatment (aka. FJO, maxilla-facial orthopedics, ALF – Alternative Light Force) can be done at any age (kids, teens and adults).
In many instances for teens and adults, FJO Appliances (ALF – Alternative Light Force) can be combined with traditional braces to dramatically realign facial, cranial osteopathic, dental and TMJ issues to re-balance the overall facial structure and shape a broader, fuller, more beautiful smile.
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL JAW ORTHOPEDICS AND ORTHODONTICS (NON-EXTRACTION METHOD)?
Functional Jaw Orthopedics or FJO Treatment is a progressive form of treatment that combines two methods of straightening teeth and jaws. By using fixed and removable appliances to get superior results, FJO Treatment works with growth and development to give patients beautiful broad smiles.
Removable Appliance Orthodontics or European Orthodontics uses sophisticated removable appliances that work in harmony with specific muscle forces to move the teeth. The use of removable appliances is not new, they’ve been used in Europe since the 1920s. Various FJO appliances are: expanders, facemask, twin block
Early Orthodontic (Functional Orthodontic) Appliance Treatment to provide Alternative to braces and Non Extraction Braces (Orthodontics) to avoid tooth extractions for braces
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL (FIXED) ORTHODONTICS (EXTRACTION METHOD)?
Fixed Appliance Orthodontics or Traditional Orthodontics (braces), uses brackets bonded to each tooth. Then wires connect the brackets providing forces to move the teeth. Usually teeth removal (extractions) are utilized.
Left untreated, FJO conditions can broadly and dramatically impact quality of life at any age. The symptoms can vary immensely and are not always localized at the immediate jaw, teeth and TMJ, but all stem from jaws that either are developing or have already developed out of their intended natural alignment.
FJO Appliances can address a surprisingly wide range of issues, from structural problems themselves to their telltale symptoms:
❖ MALOCCLUSION (UNEVEN BITE)
Malocclusion (aka. Bad bite or uneven bite) can show up in various forms due to a combination of an upper jaw underdevelopment, lower jaw underdevelopment, and/or lower jaw overdevelopment.
❖ AIRWAY DEVELOPMENT, MOUTH BREATHING & ENLARGED TONSILS/ADENOIDS
Proper airway development depends upon good jaw and facial growth. Equally, proper jaw and facial development depends upon good airway growth (Enlow’s Essentials of Facial Growth—1996).
Lower-jaw position and size crucially affect a healthy airway volume.
At early ages, chronic airway obstructions such as severe allergic reactions and enlarged tonsils and adenoids can lead to jaw deformities caused by habitual mouth breathing.
❖ TONGUE THRUSTING
Tongue thrust causes the tongue to protrude past the anterior incisors while resting and during swallowing and speech. This will lead to an anterior open bite.
Bite deformities may prove a pattern of incorrect jaw growth most clearly, but a few signs may either suggest or cause an underdeveloped or misplaced jaw even earlier.
❖ SPEECH IMMPEDIMENTS
An out-of-alignment lower jaw can make mechanics of normal speech physically uncomfortable and develop deeply rooted speech impediments.
❖ WEAR AND TEAR
Constantly grinding and clenching teeth not only wears them down rapidly, but generates pressure that leads to excruciating earaches and headaches. As children continue growing, an unchecked FJO condition can also imbalance overall facial symmetry and develop a fanged smile hampered by crowded, poorly spaced teeth.
A 1998 study“Orthodontic Maxillary Expansion and its effects on nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) (HYPERLINK – http://www.angle.org/doi/pdf/10.1043/0003-3219%281998%29068%3C0225%3AOMEAIE%3E2.3.CO%3B2)showed that
functional jaw orthopedic treatment (maxillary expanding appliance) caused a spontaneous reduction or elimination in bedwetting at night in 7 out of 10 chronic bedwetting children.
A 2008 study “Rapid Maxillary Expansion Effects on Nocturnal Enuresis in Children – A Follow-up Study” (HYPERLINK – http://www.angle.org/doi/pdf/10.2319/021407-71.1 ) showed that younger children responded better to the RME/RPE treatment and the results were stable at the 10-year follow-up. They concluded orthodontic RME is a new option for treating children with nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) who are resistant tomedical therapy; the treatment has no adverse side effects
A 2015 study “Effect of rapid maxillary expansion on monosymptomatic primary nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting)” (HYPERLINK – http://www.angle.org/doi/pdf/10.2319/031014-172.1) showed that functional jaw orthopedic treatment (maxillary expanding appliance) caused elimination in bedwetting (complete dryness) at night in 19 out of 19 bedwetting children.
❖ EAR DYSFUNCTION (EAR INFECTION – OTITIS MEDIA, EAR PAIN – OTALGIA, WAX BUILDUP, FULLNESS IN EAR, ITCHY EAR)
According to several studies of ear symptoms (ear pain (otalgia), tinnitus, itchy ear, conductive hearing loss or fullness of ears), it is important to first rule out otologic and nasopharyngeal diseases that may cause the symptoms. If no explanation for otologic (ear) symptoms is found, dental, temporomandibular and cervical spine disorders should be ruled out (Kutila 2003, HNO 1993, Page 2003).
For young children (ages 2 to 6) that have ear infections (otitis media), providing resin (white filling) buildups on the top surfaces of the lower baby second molars is an effective way to reduce or eliminate ear infections and an effective method to change the bite. (Branum 1998, Page 2003).
BENEFITS OF FJO APPLIANCES
Reforming crowded and protruded teeth once required two highly uncomfortable stages before the actual installation of fixed braces. First, baby teeth need to come out. Next comes the extraction of adult teeth (usually premolars aka bicuspids and even cuspids aka. eye teeth).
FJO Appliances (ex. ALF, expander, facemask, etc) are often combined in treatments with braces, but in our youngest patients, they apply adjustable pressure combined with targeted natural muscle forces in order to develop the jaw bones and guide teeth as they grow at an even pace into more balanced facial structures.
➔ In addition to a strikingly broad, beautiful smile, FJO Appliances can improve your profile by ensuring that the upper jaw is not positioned too far back.
➔ Patients suffer notably less tooth-wear due to grinding and less frequently develop clicking jaws and TMJ disorders, often resulting in sounder sleep patterns.
➔ Properly positioned jaws prevent airway constrictions that inhibit healthy breathing.
FJO Appliances relieve the most unpleasant inconveniences associated with reforming improperly positioned jaws, teeth, and facial bones. Treatments can begin as young as between Ages 3 to 8, when we can correct problems with the least discomfort. By somewhere between Ages 11 to 14, on the other hand, issues can progress to the point of requiring much more extensive work but with a combination of FJO and braces (ALF orthodontics) can still be used to develop the jaw bones and align the teeth.
Since FJO Appliances are designed for gradual repositioning that adheres to ongoing bone and teeth development, their use requires certain ongoing manual adjustments and activations at planned intervals. That leads to their single drawback: patients must cooperate especially strictly with recommendations and instructions, including wearing them as scheduled and cleaning, storing and maintaining them safely and cleanly when not in use. Without disciplined wear and care, results can vary greatly.
Since any combination of Fixed and FJO Appliances constitutes some degree of lifestyle consequences, there are some questions we must insist all patients ask before choosing what treatment is appropriate:
➔ How many teeth must be removed, and at what points? Which ones? Why?
➔ What are the most positive results that can be expected?
➔ How will treatment affect the TMJ?
➔ Do you have any before-and-after photo comparisons from previous patients?
Remember, the overall health and quality of life of every patient always has been, is and always will be our uncompromised first priority. Please contact us today if you have any questions or concerns we haven’t addressed above regarding Non-Extraction Braces and Functional Jaw Orthopedics (ALF, expanders, facemask).
The constantly applied force of traditional braces alone won’t always produce the best all-around results possible when addressing improper tooth and jaw development. When introduced early in an orthodontic or periodontal problem’s onset, Functional Jaw Orthopedics (FJO) frequently achieve dramatic successes in totally realigning problematic facial, dental and even TMJ issues as a complement or even alternative to braces.
FJO appliances have grown in their endorsements among Europe and North America’s most highly skilled dentists, pedodontists and orthodontists. Just as importantly, they often ultimately achieve healthier, bigger smiles by reshaping bone structures with fewer of the smile-narrowing teeth extractions that accompany being fitted for braces.
All told, the benefits to FJO treatments far outweigh the drawbacks. That’s because, provided FJO appliances are administered by highly trained and skilled professionals, the extent of risks and disadvantages hinges nearly entirely upon patients themselves….