What Is Orthotropics?

Orthotropics is an approach that achieves healthy, attractive positions for the teeth by encouraging growth in the jaw. Ensuring the jaw grows to healthy proportions creates enough space for teeth to be straight without crowding. By increasing the jaw, orthotropics also hopes to achieve additional effects such as expanding the airway and properly aligning the jaws.

Expanding the airway can improve breathing. This will help your child breathe better all day, which can help them be healthier and more active. It can also head off the development of obstructive sleep apnea.

Properly aligning the jaws can establish a healthy bite. This may prevent your child from developing temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ / TMD).

Orthotropics vs. Orthodontics

small child smiling with teethAlthough orthotropics and orthodontics have some of the same goals, they are very different approaches, which you can understand by looking at their names. Orthodontics comes from the Greek words “Ortho,” meaning straight, and “dont,” meaning teeth. It’s an approach to traightening teeth Orthotropics, on the other hand, comes from the word “tropos,” meaning growth. In other words, Orthotropics is the science of correct growth and development.

Because it can straighten teeth, we can describe orthotropics as an orthodontic approach, but only with the understanding that it’s a holistic approach that isn’t focused just on the teeth.

Here are some other significant differences between the approaches.

Growth Treatment Starts Younger

One of the big differences with an orthotropic approach is that orthotropic dentists recommend treatment at a younger age. Orthotropic treatment benefits from starting early, when kids are undergoing major growth and development spurts in their jaw. Treatment typically begins between ages six and nine, depending on your child’s development. The younger the treatment starts, the greater the potential impact. Although it can have some benefits for teens and adults, it is much less effective.

In contrast, orthodontic treatment often begins after children have lost most or all of their baby teeth. This may be age 13 or later.

Focused on Facial Growth

Orthodontic treatment focuses on just one thing: your teeth. The goal is to maneuver teeth into specific positions by applying constant pressure. This pressure causes the bones to reshape around the teeth, allowing them to move.

Orthotropics isn’t focused just on the teeth. Instead, it’s focused on attempting to transform the way the face grows, which includes affecting the development of the bones and all other tissues, including the airway, skin, lips, and more. Although orthotropic appliances may use teeth as anchors to help manipulate other tissues, the goal is never just to move teeth.

Avoiding Extraction

Another difference between these treatments is that orthodontics regularly uses tooth extraction to create space, while orthotropics does not.

In orthodontic treatment, tooth extraction is often necessary to make room for teeth. If the jaw doesn’t develop fully, there is no way to make space in the smaller jaw. Extraction is the only reasonable remedy.

In orthotropic treatment, there is rarely a need for extraction. By expanding the jaw, orthotropics helps ensure space for every tooth, so you won’t have to get any removed.

Benefits of Orthotropic Treatment

Now that you can understand the differences between the approaches, you can understand how these differences lead to many benefits for orthotropic treatment. With orthotropic treatment, you will enjoy:

  • Straight teeth
  • Healthy bite
  • Better breathing
  • More attractive profile
  • Low likelihood of extractions

Just like orthodontics, orthotropics can achieve a straight smile. Your child will enjoy an attractive, straight smile.

Orthodontics has a spotty record when it comes to creating a healthy bite. Some studies claim orthodontics can reduce TMJ risk. Others argue that it can increase the risk. What is probably most fair to say is that without a focus on jaw growth and position, “successful” orthodontics doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthy bite. It might or might not, depending on the situation. Orthotropics, on the other hand, explicitly works to achieve a healthy bite, and successful treatment will include a healthy bite and a reduced risk of TMJ.

The same can be said of better breathing. Because orthodontics focuses on the teeth, it can’t reliably produce improvements in breathing. However, orthotropics works on developing the facial structures that determine the size and shape of the airway, and successful treatment will improve breathing.

The cosmetic benefits of orthotropics extend beyond your smile. By encouraging healthy jaw growth, orthotropics can improve the appearance of your child’s profile, especially regarding the appearance of the chin. A receding or “weak” chin is becoming increasingly common, but orthotropics can help your child avoid this cosmetic complaint.

Finally, because orthotropics expands your child’s jaw to make room for all their teeth, it’s unlikely that they will need extractions.

Learn More about Orthotropics

Do you think orthotropics might be a good choice for your child? Talk to an orthotropic dentist at the Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea, serving Independence, MO, from our location in Lee’s Summit. Please call (816) 795-1000 today or use our online form to request an appointment.