Functional Orthodontics

At Espire Dental Colorado Springs by Design, Dr. Gasper uses a progressive orthodontic approach called functional orthodontics. This method helps guide a child’s facial growth and development to establish balance and harmony in the skeletal and neuromuscular system. Unlike traditional orthodontics, which solely focuses on straightening the teeth, functional orthodontics in Colorado Springs considers the patient’s entire face to deliver results that improve oral functions while also aesthetically pleasing.

  • Past president of the International Association for Orthodontics.
  • Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
  • In-demand instructor for teaching facial growth & TMJ therapy techniques.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Functional Orthodontics?

The overall goal of traditional orthodontics is to straighten the teeth to create a beautiful smile. Functional orthodontics takes it a step further with a whole-patient approach. It not only considers the appearance of the teeth in relation to their position, but also the airway and occlusion (bite). Treatments are designed to move the teeth for a more attractive smile while also promoting a patient’s well-being. Functional orthodontics can address several orthopedic aspects that may impact a patient’s quality of life, such as:
  • Skeletal bones of the head and face.
  • Upper and lower jaw bones, including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
  • TMJ joint and its relation to the neck and back.
  • Patient’s airway.

What is the Goal of Functional Orthodontics?

Using the most modern treatment options, your dentist Dr. Gasper creates good-looking, balanced faces with full, beautiful smiles. He ensures the permanent teeth have enough room to erupt while also avoiding the manifestation of joint malfunction and misalignment. As part of functional orthodontics, Dr. Gasper has the chance to treat problems related to a restricted airway, soft tissue interference, thumb-sucking, and tongue thrusting. He can also address issues that may contribute to TMJ-dysfunction later in life. Treating these areas is key to helping patients achieve overall balance and harmony that did not previously exist. Dr. Gasper’s training has made him sought after for his expertise. He has even been featured in our own Gazette Magazine.

Functional Orthodontics Process

It is recommended children begin functional orthodontics around the age of 4 or 5 because it works best when aligned with their growth and development. You can expect treatment to occur in two phases:
  • Phase 1: An oral appliance is used to help the upper and lower jawbones develop. On average, you can expect this phase to last 9 to 18 months; however, it varies depending on the complexity of the case.
  • Phase 2: After all the permanent teeth have erupted and the jaws are fully developed, braces are used to move the teeth into their ideal positions to create a straight smile. Most patients only need treatment for 9 to 18 months, but the duration is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Phase 1 – Your child’s baby teeth are only in place for a few short years, but they serve important roles before they are replaced by the permanent teeth. They allow your child to learn how to chew and speak while also acting as placeholders for their adult teeth. If there are issues with their baby teeth or their newly erupted permanent ones, it can lead to several complications for your child’s dental development. Dr. Gasper creates customized treatment plans to correct bite and alignment concerns that not only impact their oral health, but also their development. Treatments may consist of braces or other oral appliances to help resolve problems that can have lasting consequences for their smile. Phase 1 Orthodontics is used when your child still has a few baby teeth and before they’ve finished growing. It differs from Phase 2, which focuses more on aesthetics after they’ve gotten all their permanent teeth. As a result, there is usually a period of rest between Phase 1 and 2.

Does My Child Need Phase 1 Orthodontics? Not all children need functional orthodontics in Briargate. Instead, Dr. Gasper often suggests it if they have:

  • Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth.
  • Protruding teeth.
  • Teeth don’t fit together correctly.
  • Bad habits that affect their dental development, like thumb sucking.
  • Speaking issues.
  • Breathing issues.
  • Disproportionate jaw.
  • Adult teeth obstructed by baby teeth.
In some cases, the treatments used during Phase 1 Orthodontics can completely eliminate the need for further treatment in adolescence. At the least, it significantly lessens the length of time Phase 2 Orthodontics is required.

What Treatments Will My Child Need? The treatments involved in Phase 1 Orthodontics vary from person to person. After an initial consultation that may include pictures, images, X-rays, impressions, or a visual examination, Dr. Gasper may determine your child needs one or more of the following treatments:

  • Headgear
  • Functional appliance
  • Limited phase braces
  • Specialized retainers
  • Expansion appliances
  • Space maintainers
Phase 2 – You’re likely already familiar with the most common treatment used for Phase 2 Orthodontics: braces! Phase 1 Orthodontics relies on removable oral appliances to help the upper and lower jaws develop properly, and then Phase 2 Orthodontics involves applying braces to the permanent teeth to bring them into their ideal positions. The goal is to not only create a beautiful smile, but a functional bite as well that allows a child to eat, speak, and breathe with complete comfort.

How Does Phase 2 Orthodontics Work? – Dr. Gasper recommends that every child should undergo an orthodontic evaluation around age seven. At this point in a child’s development, he can determine whether or not they could benefit from Phase 1 Orthodontics. If they would, the treatment will be applied, and it will take about nine to 18 months to complete. Then, Dr. Gasper will examine a child’s mouth again and decide if Phase 2 Orthodontics is necessary (it is in most cases). He’ll then place braces onto the teeth and design a treatment plan to deliver the perfect smile.

How Long Does Phase 2 Orthodontics Typically Last? – Straightening the teeth with braces alone, on average, takes about two to three years in most cases. When paired with Phase 1 Orthodontics, however, the normal treatment time for braces is only about nine to 18 months, but this can vary from patient to patient depending on their unique situation. Because Phase 1 serves to correct problems early and preclude others from developing in the adult teeth, this enables braces to work much faster, saving patients (and their parents!) literally years of time in some cases.

Does Your Child Need Phase 2 Orthodontics? – The answer to this question really depends on your child’s age as well as the current alignment of their teeth and bite. Phase 2 Orthodontics can be used to fix all kinds of issues such as teeth crowding, rotated teeth, gapped teeth, and even malocclusions like overbites, underbites, and crossbites. The best way to determine what your child’s smile needs is to just come see us at Espire Dental Colorado Springs. Here, we can give them a quick exam, go over their treatment options, and answer any questions you might have. From there, it’s only a matter of time before your child has a straight, confident smile to show the world.

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