Growth of your jaws is an important consideration during your orthodontic treatment. Much of your jaw growth is genetically determined, just like the colour of your eyes, or how tall you grow. Functional appliances are a form of removable appliances or plates that may be required in growing children if the lower jaw is not growing as fast as the upper jaw.
Functional appliances aim to restrict the forward growth of the upper jaw, and can move the lower teeth forwards and the upper teeth back. Specific patient selection criteria must be met in order for functional appliances to be used successfully. Some important criteria that Dr. Skilton and Dr. Yap consider include i) the timing of treatment as it relates to your pubertal growth status, ii) the number of permanent (adult) and deciduous (baby) teeth in your mouth, iii) the presence of a history of jaw discrepancies in your family and iv) your motivation and compliance in wearing the appliance appropriately.
Functional appliances are designed to alter the arrangement of various muscle groups (such as forces from the tongue, lips, and cheeks) that influence the function and position of your jaws and teeth. Most importantly, functional appliances require growth for their success. Consequently, the more growth you experience during treatment, the greater the likelihood of success.
What are functional appliances?
Functional appliances are a kind of removable appliance or plate that may be used in cases where a child’s lower jaw is not growing as fast as the upper jaw. The purpose of a functional appliance is to restrict the forward growth of the upper jaw, and to move the lower teeth forwards and the upper teeth back.
What factors are considered before a functional appliance is recommended?
A number of factors are taken into account when considering whether or not your child is suited to a functional appliance. These factors include the timing of treatment in relation to your child’s pubertal growth status; the number of adult and baby teeth that your child has; whether or not there is a history of jaw discrepancies in your family; and the motivation for wearing the appliance properly and for the recommended time period.
How do functional appliances work?
Functional appliances essentially change the way that various muscles, such as those in the tongue, lips, and cheeks, affect the function and position of the jaws and teeth. In order for functional appliances to work effectively, growth is essential. For this reason, the more your child grows during treatment, the greater the probability of success.