Here at Five Star we firmly believe in treating more than just the patient’s teeth. We believe in treating the patient’s face and jaw. This concept is known as Dentofacial Orthopedics. Traditionally, extraction of teeth and surgery were common methods to close gaps or widen the upper arches of the jaw. While these have been methods for decades, problems can arise leading to chronic TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunctions otherwise known as TMD.
In fact, extraction of teeth or surgery to widen the jaw can cause chronic TMJ problems such as painful jaw clicking, lock-jaw, and even chronic sleep apnea later in adulthood. Chronic headaches, ear and vision problems, and even back pain can arise if the TMJ isn’t functioning properly.
These problems are so common that it has become an epidemic in the U.S. with some 80 million citizens considered to have TMJ problems at some point in their life. The TMJ is the most active joint in the human body, therefore it must be taken care of. If the patient’s TMJs are out of place when he or she chews or bites down, it can cause stress on the joint and these chronic problems can arise.
The top end of the lower jaw, known as the condyle, is being forced back too far and pushes into a ligament (posterior ligament) that contains blood vessels and nerves. The pressure on those nerves and blood vessels can cause incredible discomfort in a person’s lifetime if not corrected. While braces may create straight teeth into ideal alignment, if the patient’s narrow arches and mandibular position remain untreated, TMJ dysfunctions may arise. Luckily, many of these problems can be fixed with expanders, functional appliances, or orthotics.
If the jaws are aligned correctly and the arches are rounded out first, the patient will be spending far less time in straight-wire treatment (brackets and wires). The Dentofacial Orthopedic method of treatment is revolutionizing the way ortho is done and is the proper way to go about getting your patients the celebrity smile they want!