Airway or “functional” orthodontics focuses on developing the jaws, teeth and mouth muscles to help support normal airway development. Children with underdeveloped airways can develop sleep disordered breathing as well as other myofunctional compensations as they grow.
Traditional orthodontics works really well for moving teeth and the jaws, but often does not address the underlying muscles and root cause of why things are out of place. Airway orthodontic appliances work to move teeth and develop the jaws, but also train the underlying muscle to help support this growth. This approach leads to better long-term function. Assessing for this type of orthodontics involves gathering information about tooth placement, jaw development, airway development, muscle function and breathing patterns. We do this by creating models of your child’s mouth, obtaining a CBCT scan to allow for full airway assessment and then deciding on the appropriate treatment.
There are a variety of appliances that can be utilized in airway orthodontics. Some of these include fixed or removable hyrax or Schwarz appliances, the Myobrace® system, and ALF appliances. The type of appliance utilized depends on the individual needs of the child. Myofunctional therapy is highly recommended in conjunction with any orthodontic intervention as well as screening for oral ties. In addition to orthodontic treatment, consulting with an ENT or sleep physician may be recommended.