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A 30-year-old member asked:

Difference between traditional vs functional orthodontics?

9 doctor answers11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Robert Stoner
Orthodontics 38 years experience
Significant: Functional orthodontics generally will not provide the precision and accuracy of traditional orthodontics. Headgears are much more consistent and easier to wear than functional appliances. The literature shows they do no reduce the total amount of time someone will need traditional braces, nor will they yield a better result.
Dr. Louis Sterling
Prosthodontics 37 years experience
Age: Functional orthodontics utilizes a combination of various appliances and the natural growth of the body to achieve a particular result. Once growth is complete, functional ortho appliances won't work. Traditional therapy can always be used.
Dr. David Schleimer
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Traditional better: Functional appliances do work, they work for the most part in a different way than most practitioners think however. By positioning the lower jaw forward it causes muscular forces to reduce the forward growth of the upper jaw, called the headgear effect. Regular orthodontics is more precise and is based on real, repeatable science. Often functionals are used by non-orthodontists.
Dr. Michael Munn
Orthodontics 14 years experience
Muscle powered: Traditional orthodontics moves teeth by way of braces. Functional means it utilizes muscle forces when 'functioning' or chewing. Typically the goal is to use orthopedic forces to alter direction of growth during the growth spurt but they can also move the teeth (since that is where they are usually attached). Typically functionals are not used on adults because of limitations in lack of growth.
Dr. David Ostreicher
Specializes in Orthodontics
Growth: Traditional orthodontics moves teeth within the bone. Functional orthodontics rearranges the jaw bones, and is usually effective only during growth periods, usually before the age of 18.
Dr. Robert Stoner
Orthodontics 38 years experience
The meta-analysis of the literature shows that the change in Class II from functional appliances is the same as the headgear. It is dental movement and occurs in the maxillary arch. However since the lower teeth are used as the anchor, flaring of the lower incisors into an unstable position occurs. Relapse of the lower incisors is inevitable due to the encroachment into the muscles of the face.
Apr 6, 2013
Dr. S. jay Bowman
Orthodontics 36 years experience
All in the name: So-called "functional" orthodontics has become a kind of proprietary and romantic moniker that is now primarily promoted by general dentists dabbling in orthodontics. There is so much misinformation bandied about to confuse the consumer. The idea that "functionals" do something unique, different, or better than anything else is just plain unsupported by research. See an orthodontic specialist.
Dr. Hilary Baskin
Orthodontics 28 years experience
1 is part of other: Orthodontist have used functional appliances for decades. This new term "functional orthodontics" is a term typically used by general dentists to make you think there is some better way to fix your teeth. It isn't. So yes, talk to your orthodontist about using a functional appliance, but don't beleive anyone who considers "functional orthodontics" a seperate field of treatment.
Dr. Arnold Malerman
Orthodontics 53 years experience
Success vrs failure: Traditional orthodontic results in >90% improvement in the hands of a skilled orthodontic specialist. Functional rx, treatment designed to harness muscle function to adjust jaw relationships/sizes in growing children has been shonwn to be only modestly successful. It is of no value if there is no growth (as in adults). Please see orthodontist to discuss your individual needs and rx.
Dr. Gregory Johnson
Specializes in Orthodontics
Functional ortho: The official name for the american orthodontic association is "american association of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics" orthodontics=straightening teeth, orthopedics =aligning or straightening bone/muscle relationships. An experienced orthodontic specialist can provide exceptional facial orthopedics for growing patients through the use of orthopedic (functional) appliances - not adults.

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