What are Functional Appliances in Orthodontics?
At Straighten Up Orthodontics, we use functional appliances to “train” or reshape the jaw. This is done for a number of reasons, with the most common being to correct a malocclusion or prevent teeth overcrowding.
The term “functional appliances” is a catch-all phrase for the hundreds of orthodontic appliances available to patients. These include palatal expanders, fixed appliances (non-removable), and removable appliances.
Orthodontic headgear is used for several types of treatments, most notably to treat an overbite (upper jaw extends further than the lower jaw) or underbite (lower jaw extends further than the upper jaw). Headgear may also be used to modify the shape of the jaw as it grows, in which it may be seen as an “orthopedic” appliance. Always wear your headgear as directed by the orthodontist to ensure the best results.
A palatal expander is used to expand or widen the upper jaw by placing gentle pressure on the upper molars and back teeth with each adjustment. Dr. Wiltshire will provide you with instructions on how and when you should adjust your palatal expander. When the desired expansion is achieved, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and prevent regression.
What is “Malocclusion?”
The term ”malocclusion” is used to describe a misalignment of the upper and lower teeth (commonly referred to as “bite”). Malocclusion can include various types of orthodontic disorders such as overbite, crossbite, open bite, and crowding.
How Important is a “Proper” Bite?
It’s not just about looks… having a proper bite (occlusion) promotes proper digestion by breaking foods into smaller particles. So, correcting a malocclusion may also help you shed a few pounds.
How Can I Tell if I Need a Functional Appliance?
Not all orthodontic conditions require treatment using a functional appliance. Most conditions can be treated through the use of braces, aligner trays, and/or retainers.
Caring for Your Functional Appliance
Getting the most out of your orthodontic treatment means keeping your functional appliance in great shape. Visit our section on functional appliance care to get started.