You already know what it means to be an orthodontist, but what about specialising in dentofacial orthopedics? Dentofacial orthopedics is a special distinction earned by orthodontists who have received their orthodontic specialisation in dental school, and have completed a two to three year orthodontic residency program.
Dentofacial orthopedics is a process of normalising the growth of a patient’s bone structure and repairing any imbalances of the face and jaws. This process often involves a two-phase treatment and often begins when the patient is around 7 or 8 years old.
Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics” is one of the nine specialties. Essentially, while orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and development, which occurs largely during childhood. Appliances are frequently used — the more familiar braces for orthodontics, and other specialized appliances like headgear and expanders depending on what facial abnormalities are present. Sometimes orthopedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are used at the same time. So if your child gets braces and headgear, he's actually undergoing orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.
Being skilled in both areas, our doctor is able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaw as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.
Children are often the best candidates for receiving dentofacial orthopedic therapy. Beginning at a young age, your orthodontist will examine and monitor your child’s growth to determine when treatment starting treatment will be most effective. If your child begins orthodontic treatment before all adult teeth have erupted, it is known as phase-one treatment. During phase-one treatment, your orthodontist will use treatments designed to correct your child’s jaw growth and make sure that the jaw bone is properly aligned before beginning the second phase of treatment, which usually involves braces to straighten the teeth.
Dentofacial orthopedics is also used to treat adults; however, this process may involve surgery. In children, the jaw bones are still forming and have not completely hardened, making it easier for orthodontists to control bone growth and tooth movement. Adults, however, are no longer growing, and their jaw bones have hardened making it more of a challenge to adjust the bite and move teeth into proper alignment if the facial bones are misaligned.
Surgery may be used to adjust the jaw bone and establish the proper bite alignment before beginning a braces treatment. With dentofacial orthopedics, adults can still achieve the beautiful smile they’ve always wanted.
To learn more about dentofacial orthopedics, and to find out if this type of treatment is right for you, please contact our practice and schedule an orthodontic consultation.