This orthodontic system is removable, and includes braces which are worn over upper and lower teeth at the same time. It is used mainly in children and teenagers so as to correct the way the upper and lower teeth fit/bite together such that they are stable and function in the correct way. Functional braces can also align the jaws and restore facial harmony and balance.
Common situations in which this type of braces may be useful include:
- Correction of very protruding upper or lower teeth.
- Stopping lower teeth biting into the gum of the roof of the mouth.
- Improving the way the back molar teeth fit together.
- Improve the facial profile of a growing patient so that the jaws look well-aligned with each other.
There are a variety of functional appliances each with specific actions, but the commonest variety and the one that we tend to use at Elite Orthodontics is called “Twin Blocks”.
See also: Aftercare – Functional Braces.
How do functional braces work?
Functional braces only work well in growing children and adolescents. Research is still being carried out to evaluate exactly how functional braces work. Functional braces may deliver their effects through a combination of ways:
- They may promote or modify growth of the jaws.
- Adapt the soft tissues and muscles of the face to new positions.
- Move whole groups of teeth at the same time or change the angulation of teeth.
Diagnosis is made through a thorough examination of the bite and facial structures, and the orthodontist is also aided by making measurements on and analysing a cephalometric X-ray image.
Depending on the condition of the bite, functional brace treatment starts either at an early age when milk teeth are still present (age 7-10), or around the time of the pubertal growth spurt (age 11-14) when all or nearly all the milk teeth have been shed. Here at Elite Orthodontics, we are keen that orthopaedic issues are addressed early.
Apart from the aesthetic and functional benefits already mentioned, we know that addressing protruding teeth at an early age with functional braces reduces the risk of trauma and damage to these teeth significantly.
Another added benefit is that functional braces have helped our orthodontists at Elite Orthodontics virtually eliminate headgear from our practice!
Next: Hidden Braces