Most orthodontic treatment is designed to make the teeth straight, but the foundation is often overlooked.
Everyone thinks about the teeth, but the teeth actually just go along for the ride. They end up where the jaws develop. And if the jaws do not develop to their genetic potential, there is not enough room for the teeth. It is a catch-22. Controlled Arch Braces uses techniques to develop jaws to their beautiful genetic potential. With the jaws at their optimum size and position, the teeth can be aligned to create beautiful smiles and balanced faces.
How does the genetic plan for optimum jaws go awry?
There is a tendency for us to assume that how we ‘turn out’ is a result of our genetic inheritance and by and large, genetics is the template for the foundation. The problem is that how we turn out is as a result of ‘epigenetics’ not genetics. Epigenetics is the mix between the genetic template and the influence of the environment. If the signalling to the genes changes as a result of the environment, the end result can be very different from the genetic template.
Let me explain…
There are certain physiologic principles which are sacrosanct and one of those is that form follows function. We have all seen super fit athletes who looked awesome while they were in active competition but who upon retirement don’t look quite so well-honed. Well so it is with all of us. Whatever the body is doing, the development follows that function. The most important requirement of the human body is not for food or water but for air. We can survive days without food or water but only minutes without air. The body will do whatever it needs to do to breathe. For that reason, we have two airways – through the nose and through the mouth. The nose is the physiologic airway and the mouth is the emergency airway. If you get a cold, you will automatically breathe through your mouth – your emergency airway. But what if you can’t or don’t breathe through your nose? You will take up breathing through your emergency airway – your mouth, full-time. If and when that happens, everything changes. Epigenetics steps in. The signally to the genes for jaw development change.
Proper signally for jaw development occurs in the nose. Sensors in the nose ‘pick up’ the vacuum pressure of the air passing through the nose. When this happens, the upper jaw, the maxilla develops in a forward and broad. This creates a wide shallow palate, great cheek bones, a beautiful smile and a balanced head posture and neck alignment. In short, normal optimal development.
Unfortunately when mouth breathing becomes the norm, the upper jaw remains narrow and grows vertically downward. Often people will look like they have a gummy smile and have a narrow arch. Often the teeth will be crowded or lean in and it looks like the jaw is too small for the teeth.
Just as the development of the upper jaw gets its signalling from nasal breathing, the development of the lower jaw gets its signalling from the size, shape and alignment of the upper jaw. With a constricted upper arch, the lower jaw also becomes constricted and develops to fit inside the smaller upper jaw. This can result in a whole host of problems beyond crowded teeth. The lower jaw becomes trapped in a posterior position, compressing the TMJ and compromising the airway in the throat. Many people, over time, will develop headaches, neck pain and TMJ problems and even more seriously obstructive sleep apnoea. A narrow airway is much more prone to collapse during sleep. If you develop severe sleep apnoea, you are 4x more likely to die of any cause than someone your own age without sleep apnoea and 5.2x more likely to die of a heart or stroke. It can rob you of decades of your life. This is serious stuff.
The good news is that there are techniques available today which can correct the foundation, even in adulthood. The genes to develop a normal size and shaped jaw are still present, they just need the proper stimulation to start the remodelling process. These tools include:
- Anterior Growth Guidance Appliance
- Controlled Arch Braces
- Myofunctional Therapy
- Neuromuscular Dentistry