August 16, 2017
You’ve heard of orthodontics, but what about orthotropics? Orthotropics is a completely different approach to orthodontic therapy — one that aims to correct underlying jaw issues at a young age, therefore reducing the need for expensive orthodontic treatment later on.
Dr. David Porter studied orthodontics and orthotropics under Dr. Bill Hang, a world-renowned expert in the field. Now, people come to Synergy Dental from all over to receive this revolutionary therapy.
To schedule a consultation, call our Gillette, WY office at (307) 622-1311.
A History of Orthodontics and Orthotropics
Crooked teeth — and people trying to correct their crooked teeth — are nothing new. Did you know archeologists have found Egyptian mummies dating from thousands of years ago with metal bands around their teeth? They believe catgut may have been attached to these crude braces in order to move the teeth.
Since ancient Egypt, of course, many advances have been made in the field of orthodontics. There’s Pierre Fauchard’s 18th-century invention of an appliance called the “bandeau,” the introduction of vulcanized rubber into orthodontics in the 19th century, and the contributions of Edward Hartley Angle, whose is known for his studies on malocclusion, or misalignment.
Orthotropics, on the other hand, is a completely different philosophy than traditional orthodontics. The science of Orthotropics was created by Dr. John Mew in London, England, in the 1950s. Dr. Mew believed that conventional orthodontic therapy, which focuses on straightening teeth, falls short for many patients.
What Makes Orthotropics Different?
Typically, conventional orthodontic treatment begins after all of a child’s teeth have come in, at around age 13 or 14. The aim is to then straighten and correct them, which may involve making space with an expander or by pulling teeth. For some patients, this approach will work fine. They will wear their braces for a couple years, and go on to have a straight, healthy smile for life.
But some kids have a jaw that’s too narrow or one that rests too far back in their skull, which creates an overbite. In a case like this, if the child goes through conventional orthodontic treatment, problems may come up. The braces may straighten their teeth, sure, but they do nothing to correct the underlying problem with the jaw. This may result in other health issues cropping up later in life, like TMJ disorders or sleep apnea.
Rather than seeing teeth and bite issues in isolation, orthotropics views them in the larger context of the head and neck, and doesn’t overlook their connection with ENT probems, posture, and breathing.
How Does Orthotropics Work?
The goal of orthotropics is to guide the growth of the face and jaw so that adequate space for the teeth and tongue opens up naturally.
Ideally, we will see your child from babyhood so we can address the earliest problems (like tongue-tie) as soon as they crop up. Over the years, we can monitor the child’s tongue position, as this influences development of the jaw. If necessary, we can provide myofunctional therapy, which trains your child to keep the tongue in a healthy resting position.
Once your child reaches ages 7 to 9, he or she may be a candidate for orthotropic therapy. Typically, this involves three stages: Preparation, Training, and Active Retention. During the Training phase, an appliance is worn at all times. The appliance remains passive if the jaw is held in the correct position. If the child’s jaw falls out of position, the appliance will touch his or her skin as a reminder. During the Active Retention phase, an appliance is worn at night.
When started young, with patients who are compliant with whatever orofacial exercises the doctor prescribes, orthotropics should allow the teeth to align themselves without the use of traditional braces. This not only makes for better prom photos down the road, but reduces the likelihood of other oral health problems into adulthood.
If you have questions about orthotropics, or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Porter, call Synergy Dental’s Gillette, WY office at (307) 622-1311. Alternatively, you may fill out our online form and wait for us to get back to you.