So usually in modern day medicine and healthcare there are a lot of treatments that target symptom relief. Usually these treatments don’t treat the problem and often can cause more damage in the process. I believe that for some people the practice of orthodontics does this. There are plenty of people whose jaws grew in just fine but they had crooked teeth for one reason or another and they used conventional orthodontic braces to align their teeth. These are not the people I’m referring to. I’m referring to the people who have an issue with stunted jaw growth and improper tongue placement. When people snore, sleep with their mouth open, suck their thumbs, etc they are not sleeping with their tongue in the correct position. The tongue correctly nestled at the roof of your mouth when you sleep counteracts the pressure placed on the upper teeth from the lips. Without the tongue at the roof of your mouth the lips push the teeth out of alignment. With the mouth open the jaw drops back and doesn’t grow properly. This causes crowding and crooked teeth. Conventional orthodontic treatment does not fix the jaw growth issue and instead they usually extract four teeth, to make room in your mouth. Tooth extraction is dangerous for the body and often causes a myriad of other health issues. The alternative to OrthoDONtics that addresses the problem of a jaw with stunted growth, often before the teeth have the chance to become crooked, is OrthoTROpics(or-thuh-troh-fiks). Orthotropics uses appliances to align the jaw correctly and encourages the mouth to close properly. Treatment time is much shorter than traditional orthodontics, it’s in the range of 6-12 months. It’s also at an age where children are more likely to corporate. Children’s jaws are growing from the ages of 6-10. This is the opportune time to make the bite alignment that encourages the jaw to grow appropriately.
Two days ago I took my two boys to the closest Orthotropic doctor, who was a 3 hour drive south in Joplin, MO. Dr. DeTar was amazing with my boys. He had them completely relaxed, laughing, and having a good time. Which was great because we were there for almost 3 hours. Zavien, my almost 9-year-old was seen first. He was within range for normal jaw growth and the doctor said he had room for his teeth to come in. However, my 7-year-old, Jaxon, exhibited the facial profile, crowded teeth, and permanent grimace that are signs of a jawline that’s not growing correctly. It may be from sucking his thumb as a toddler, but it’s also definitely from sleeping with his mouth open at night. Below are the profiles of my boys. Zavien is in yellow and with his pictures you can really compare to see how Jax’s lack of horizontal jaw growth, he’s in orange, makes Jax look like he has a recessed lower lip, pronounced cheeks, crowded teeth, and a gummy smile. These brothers are 19 months apart in age. The notes to the right of the images are to share the difference to look for in the boy’s profiles.
In the pictures below the gap between my boy’s front teeth due to their muscle frenum is unassociated with the jaw growth issue. I will be leaving Zavien’s for now as it’s a minor issue and Dr. DeTar thinks will correct on it’s own. Jaxon’s is more prevalent so we will research and closely watch the issue as he grows.
Your jaw is suppose to grow in at a 45 degree angle, give or take a little. Jax has more vertical growth than horizontal growth. Basically because he sleeps with his mouth open it causes his jaw to drop down and back. Which means not only does his jaw not grow where it needs to in order to match his upper mouth, but it also means his tongue isn’t pushing his upper teeth into place. So the pressure from his cheeks has made it so there is no room for his adult teeth to fit aligned in his mouth. According to his x-ray when his canines come in they will probably come in through the side of his gums above the rest of his teeth, because there just won’t be any room. My brother actually had this issue as a kid and his canines grew in like this guy pictured to the right. A chronic issue associated with a jaw that has not grown in appropriately, is joint pain and clicking. Also by moving the jaw forward into the correct position it allows more room for the airways and helps prevent breathing issues like sleep apnea. It also corrects the face shape, which has psychological benefits as well. Below is a great quick video from Dr. DeTar that explains the risks of a misgrown jaw and the benefits of Orthotropics.
This is all a learning experience for me. I went with conventional orthodontic treatment at 18 and it made my smile smaller, my teeth crooked even after four years in braces. And the reason it didn’t work for me? I sleep with my mouth open and the pressure of my cheeks crowds my mouth. I can use Orthotropics to help me as well. It will retrain my mouth and jaw for proper positioning 24/7. Essentially creating new habits. My jaw is within normal range but sleeping with my mouth open is my down fall. Someday I will probably get treatment, but for now our four children’s treatments are our focus. In 3-4 years I will take my girls in to get evaluated. Zavien will go back when all his adult teeth are grown in to see if there is any cosmetic straightening that would be beneficial. I hope you’ve found this enlightening and thanks for reading!