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Orthodontics FAQ

What is Functional Orthodontics?

Traditional orthodontic treatment focuses on moving teeth to fit within the existing jaw structure. Functional Orthodontics, however, goes beyond teeth alignment. It aims to optimize oral and airway function by promoting natural growth of the jaws and face, identifying and addressing poor habits early, and treating underlying causes rather than just symptoms.

Why would my child benefit from earlier orthodontic intervention?

Approximately 60% of craniofacial development is completed by age 6, and by age 8, about 90% is finished. Intervening during this natural growth phase can reduce treatment time and complexity. Early intervention can address structural and functional concerns, which can:

  • Minimize the risk of breathing disorders later in life
  • Improve sleep and breathing ability now
  • Encourage natural growth of the face and jaw
  • Reduce the risk of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)
  • Decrease the likelihood of needing aggressive surgeries
What makes a child a candidate for functional orthodontics?

Common signs that may indicate a child could benefit from functional orthodontics include:

  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Mouth-breathing
  • History of thumb-sucking or pacifier use
  • Snoring, heavy, or noisy breathing during sleep
  • Restless sleep, frequent changes in sleeping position, or disheveled bedclothes
  • Falling asleep at school or in the car
  • Chronic nasal congestion or stuffiness
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Night terrors
  • Bedwetting
  • Difficulty waking up or tiredness in the morning
  • Dry mouth at night or in the morning
  • Crooked teeth or malocclusion
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Sinusitis
How long is the treatment?

A functional orthodontic treatment plan typically involves three phases:

  1. Active Expansion: This phase actively changes the shape of the face and jaw, lasting from 6 to 9 months.
  2. Retention: Lasting about 6 months, this phase uses an appliance to maintain newly formed structures while bones adjust.
  3. Correcting Soft Tissue Structures and Retraining Breathing Patterns: This phase includes functional therapy to address muscle movement and breathing function. In some cases, a functional frenuloplasty may be necessary alongside therapy. Therapy duration varies by patient, typically ranging from 3 to 4 months.
How can I get my child evaluated?
Contact our office to discuss your child’s medical history and specific concerns. We will schedule an evaluation with Dr. Gandhi or Dr. Peiravani for a thorough assessment. Following the assessment, we will review treatment recommendations and a specific timeline for your child’s intervention.