If you have been told you or your child needs orthodontia, then education is the first step in making a decision on where to go and who to get it from. You have likely been told that orthodontia is required because the teeth are not straight, or that one or more teeth are growing crooked (impacted). Straightening teeth is just one thing that orthodontia can do. Good orthodontia can not only straighten teeth, but it can open the airway, reshape the face into something more attractive, and correct posture. This is not your garden variety orthodontia though. It takes an outside of the normal box thinker to get these results.
Conventional orthodontia will usually look to pull the first molars and then use braces to push the remaining teeth backwards to get a good cosmetic appearance. The teeth are straight and you have a beautiful smile cosmetically. This thinking is not the best for your body. It pushes the bones of the face together, which can result in life long headaches (until corrected), vision problems, and a multitude of other ailments. It can result in the need for a permanent retainer to keep the teeth in place (because the dentist does not understand the forces involved). It can crowd the airway (which results in poor tissue oxygenation and can cause a life of chronic disease – that leads to death up to 20% earlier). It can push the tongue back into the throat, leading to sleep apnea and TMJ problems as we age. It is VERY rare that I would recommend this approach to correction.
What I DO recommend is the following:
Get you or your child treated osteopathically by someone who understands cranial osteopathy and its role in dentistry. That is a pretty specific request and there are not many of us. This can change your teeth and the way they interact a great deal. THEN go to see your dentist/orthodontist. Find someone who uses the ALF (advanced lightwire functional) or a Biobloc (orthotropics). Both of these appliances have strengths and weaknesses that will need to be discussed with your dentist before choosing the appliance that works best for you. Neither focus on pulling teeth, but work with the mouth to make room for the teeth that are coming in or are already present. Both work on obtaining a functional airway. Both move the tongue and help it fit the mouth well and function optimally. This helps the airway and the TMJ. Getting treatment first allows the dentist to take impressions from a moving, functional mouth. This will speed the process of moving the teeth and will reduce the possibility of adverse reactions (like headaches or vision changes) from an appliance pushing on stuck bones or teeth (which tends to just jam them further).
Once the impression is made and fitted, my recommendation is to see the osteopath both prior AND after each adjustment of the appliance. These need not be long visits. This approach makes sure the head and the teeth are moving prior to the adjustment of the appliance (which makes it easier on the dentist and the patient). Then after the appliance is adjusted, another treatment ensures that the bones and the teeth are still moving well (this makes it easy on the patient). This approach can shave as much as ⅓ of your time in braces off when compared with no osteopathic treatment.
As you wear your appliance, any issues that you have should go through both your dentist AND osteopath. There are a great many things that the osteopath can do that will save you a trip to the dental office.
Once your teeth have moved where they need to be for a functional and cosmetic result, check with your osteopath to see if the bones of your face and your teeth have any strains that might cause the teeth to move once the appliance is removed. If the facial bones are moving freely, then you may not need a retainer.
I hope this has shed some light on questions to ask you osteopath and dentist/orthodontist about how to get the results you need. If I can be of any assistance, please send an email or schedule an appointment