Braces affect bone structure, health and beauty.
I discovered this the hard way. My daughter was 7 when her dentist said that she was missing 3 adult permanent teeth. Two were on the bottom jaw, one on the left side and one on the right. One was missing on the top jaw on the right side.
As it turns out, she inherited her missing teeth from me. I didn’t have wisdom teeth – and in high school thought I'd hit the jackpot (especially when watching my classmates in horrible pain from having their wisdom teeth extracted).
Unfortunately, missing teeth didn’t work out so well for my little girl. Her missing teeth were premolars. Now missing premolars is better than missing front teeth because the gaps aren't as noticeable. But as I did more research, I found that missing them isn't good.
Having fewer teeth causes excessive pressure on teeth that are left. That pressure is transferred to the jaw bone, but because the pressure isn't evenly distributed over the entire bone, the jaw bone can deteriorate.
And my kid LOVES to eat. I had to fix this.
I went to six different orthodontists. I thought that by talking to enough dentists and orthodontists a pattern would emerge and I would see a clear path. It didn’t work that way. With each orthodontist visit, I got a different opinion:
- Several wanted to pull more teeth to create an even number on both sides of her mouth. Pulling more teeth didn’t sound like the answer when missing teeth had created the problem.
- One orthodontist wanted to leave the teeth as they were - with an uneven number of teeth on each side. I worried about this answer too. Wouldn’t the pressure on the jawbone be uneven with different numbers of teeth?
- A couple orthodontists said they wanted to fill the spots that were missing teeth with implants. Unfortunately, implants are VERY expensive, the process is painful, and they don’t last forever. Implants cannot be placed until the child is fully done growing – about age 22 or older.
- Other orthodontists wanted to pull the remaining baby teeth and close the space in the spots that were missing the adult teeth. The problem here is that if a tooth is moved too far with braces, it can destroy the root, potentially causing the tooth to fall out. If the orthodontist pulled the baby tooth and let the tooth come forward on its own, the root would not be damaged. BUT if we moved forward with this plan, there would be no option for implants at a later time.
Nothing sounded right. I started to research, looking for case studies to find the best treatment. I found that the field of orthodontics is largely based on anecdotal evidence. As a registered nurse, I had trouble believing that there weren’t more studies to support a specific treatment plan - in medicine everything is evidence based. My frustration level went through the roof - so I took a three month break from talking to orthodontists.
I thought hard about each consult with the orthodontists. They all had one thing in common - every history form included a question about snoring. My daughter snored as a baby, so during my sabbatical I thought about that a lot. I realized braces could affect snoring.
I had braces and I snore. ENTs (ear, nose and throat doctors) told me that I don’t fit any of the demographics for snoring. I'm not overweight and I don’t sleep on my back. I had a headgear. Could braces have caused my snoring?
I didn’t want my little girl to snore like I do, so I started researching braces and snoring.
Then I found Orthotropics.
One article on the website ClaimingPower.com (The name of the article was Braces Damage Faces. Why All Traditional Orthodontic Treatments Suck.) talked about orthotropics and the idea that the long term success of orthodontic treatment is dependent on the direction of growth. Forward growing faces look better and have straighter teeth. Immediately, I looked up orthotropics. The London School of Facial Orthotropics was established in 1983 by Dr. John Mew. Here's his definition of orthotropics:
“The orthotropic method aims to provide space for all teeth, including wisdom teeth, by improving muscle tone, correcting facial posture and swallowing training. These factors determine the direction of facial development, and treatment should be aimed at treating the causes. This is achieved by wearing a discrete brace that discourages patients from dropping their mouths open and by Oral Myology training" (exercises that train the tongue and mouth to function and swallow correctly - essentially physical therapy for your mouth).
The definition continues, "The goal is to convert vertical growth into horizontal growth (see images below) in order to provide space for the teeth to align naturally. During treatment tongue space more than doubles, allowing the natural conversion to an adult swallowing pattern to take place. The effect is dramatic and permanent. Orthotropics is an early prevention, non-extraction, and non-surgical method. Natural growth guidance is non-intrusive: there is no need for “railway track” braces, extractions, headgear, surgery or retainers. This is not to be confused with functional treatment, and is in no way similar to a Twin blocks, Herbst or Damon appliance.”
To learn more about Oral Myology training, check out this website: www.myofunctionaltherapy4u.com.
Notice the almost vertical cheek line from nose to eye. It indicates vertical / upward growth of the upper jaw. In this girl’s case it's a result of traditional orthodontics combined with a lack of natural forward growth. Photo courtesy of ClaimingPower.com.
This girl has an angled cheek line - meaning she had forward growth of the upper jaw. This difference is not because of genetics but instead from growth patterns affected by the environment (like orthotropics). Photo courtesy of ClaimingPower.com.
Again, braces affect bone structure, health AND beauty!
Horizontally growing faces are better looking and have less long-term crowding of teeth. The most noticeable differences are usually seen in the cheekline - like in the pictures shown above.
Traditional orthodontics looks at crooked teeth only. Orthotropics views them as part of the head and neck, and relates them to breathing, body posture, and jaw problems. Most ear, nose and throat issues can also be tied to teeth.
In my case, a headgear was used to correct my overbite. The theory with the headgear is this - the headgear is used to stop the forward growth of the upper teeth so that the smaller bottom jaw has time to grow and catch up. But for me, it didn't work. I still have a pretty big overbite. Maybe the overbite would have been worse without the headgear. I'll never know. What I do know this - the headgear pushed my upper teeth back, preventing forward growth and narrowing my airway.
Anytime an airway is shrunk, the incidence of sleep apnea, snoring, and asthma are increased. If there isn’t space for the teeth then your airway is at risk.
The most significant measurement in the diagnosis of sleep apnea is the distance from the area just behind the point of the chin to the Adams apple. This measurement is more significant than obesity and body mass index. The smaller the measurement, the more at risk you are. Learn more on this site: https://orthotropics.com/facial-shape-and-sleep-apnoea/
Sleep apnea is thought to be involved in heart disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even obesity.
Orthodontics was developed to straighten teeth and has been very successful – to its own detriment. Many problems have been ignored. Orthotropics was developed by wiping the slate clean and using a universal, evidence based theory. Faces that grow well have straight teeth and are healthy. Forcing teeth into alignment can be damaging AND requires long term retainer use to maintain straight teeth. Redirecting growth can align teeth permanently, leading to long term health and an improved appearance. To learn more read our Orthotropics Review.
Below you'll find a video from Right to Grow. In it they explain a little bit about the history of braces and the importance of forward facial growth. The video also shows how permanent tooth extractions and use of the head gear (both still used today) damages faces, airways, quality and quantity of life.
So I have learned lots - that braces affect bone structure, health and beauty - and my husband and I decided Biobloc orthotropics is the best fit for our daughter. I like that it's evidence based. The attention to form and function of the face, jaw and teeth just makes sense! We start this month. Wish us luck!
My daughter has been in BioBloc Orthotropics for a couple of years now. (Her dentist, Dr. James Bieneman (in Denver), said the treatment would last about 3 years.) We're past the "ugly duckling" stage mentioned in the Orthotropics Review post. That part is rough. No doubt about it. My dad looked at my kid and said, "Are you sure that dentist is any good?" And while she was getting used to the top retainer, it was very hard for my daughter to enunciate - so much so that one of her teachers spoke to me about Sarah's inability to speak. It did pass with time. Those were the bad things. Here are the good ones:
- My daughter's snoring has stopped completely.
- She used to get horrible heartburn - she needed a daily dose of Omeprazole (prescribed by a pediatric GI doctor) to stop the pain. Now she doesn't get heartburn. She's completely off the omeprazole. Occasionally she does take Pepcid, probably once a month. (This improvement is probably from the myofunctional therapy that corrected her swallow.)
- She used to have dark circles under her eyes. Now they're gone. Dr. Bieneman explained it to me this way. The dark circles are from blood pooling in the veins beneath your eyes. Because the bone structure has changed, those veins are able to drain better now. And Voila! No circles!
- Now she's prettier. The Biobloc retainers moved her jaws forward. She has a pretty profile. Her bone structure is just better - and her lips are bigger.
I'm more impressed with Biobloc Orthotropics now after seeing my daughter's improvement first hand. I wish I could have had orthotropics myself, but it only works on children who are young and growing.
If you'd like to learn more, I'd recommend reading some of the articles on Dr. William Hang's website, FaceFocused.com.
And here's a link to an article I found very helpful. Its called Airway Centric TMJ Philosophy / Airway Centric Orthodontics Ushers in the Post-Retraction World of Orthodontics and is written by Dr. Hang and Dr. Michael Gelb.
On the Right to Grow website, there's a page that lists research showing that braces used to restrict facial growth hurt people. You might find it useful: https://www.righttogrow.org/the_research
On that same website, they have a bunch of interviews with orthodontists explaining oh so many things: https://www.righttogrow.org/practitioner_interviews
There is also a list of references with links at the bottom of this post.
I hope this helps! Good luck!
Amy Takken, RN
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery.
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If you liked this post, you'll LOVE these:
https://www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-65/issue-10/548.html Orthodontic Management of Missing Teeth
https://academic.oup.com/ejo/article/30/3/254/405973 Agenesis of mandibular second premolars with retained primary molars. A longitudinal radiographic study of 99 subjects from 12 years of age to adulthood
ClaimingPower dot com - Braces Damage Faces - Why All Traditional Orthodontic Treatments Suck
Dr. James Bieneman - YourColoradoDentist dot com - Pediatric Sleep Disordered Breathing/Obstructive Sleep Apnea
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08869634.2016.1192315 Airway Centric® TMJ philosophy/Airway Centric® orthodontics ushers in the post-retraction world of orthodontics
The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some – like melanoma – can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!