Oral Appliances for Bite & Alignment Issues
Conventional orthodontic treatment is fine if all you care about is straight teeth. It’s not so great for supporting full orofacial development and the natural health and vibrancy it supports.
At Marin Dental Wellness, we believe there’s a better way, and it starts by acknowledging what causes crowded, crooked teeth in the first place: underdeveloped jaws and dental arches. (You can thank the soft, sugary, ultra-processed modern Western diet for that, along with lack of breastfeeding, parafunctional habits such as thumb-sucking, and other influences.)
Conventional orthodontics typically recommends extracting perfectly healthy teeth to make room for the crowded ones to be guided into acceptable alignment. By doing this, the patient’s genetic potential for growth is compromised. The skull becomes jammed, and the structures between its normally flexible bones – nerves, blood vessels, and fibers – get compressed. Over time, this can result in chronic pain, as well as structural problems, such as scoliosis, disc compression, and herniation).
Healthier, Holistic Alternatives for Straight Teeth & a Well-Aligned Bite
At Marin Dental Wellness, we feature a number of appliance therapies that have proven very effective over the years. No one appliance is best for every single patient. Choosing the right one for you depends on your current oral health and bite, your unique dental and medical history, and your treatment goals – whether for yourself or your child.
“ALF” stands for Alternative Lightwire Functionals, which are devices that look like retainers but do so much more. Where conventional palate expanders use heavy force to widen dental arches, ALF appliances use gentle force so the skull bones expand and growth is stimulated.
With increased jaw space, there’s now room to guide the crowded teeth into their optimal positions with standard orthodontic practices. And because we make periodic adjustments to the ALF to realign the skull bones and level the foundation of the skull, orthodontic relapse is much less likely. Balancing the skull bones also helps ensure more normal neurologic and spinal function throughout the patient’s life.
ALF appliances are easy to clean and contain no plastic, so it’s easier to speak while wearing them compared to some other devices.
Also retainer-like in appearance, the Homeobloc appliance stimulates fuller development of the arches and jawbones by stimulating the periodontal ligament that attaches each tooth to the jaw. This epigenetic signaling prompts the growth of new bone and more optimal alignment of the facial bone structure.
With Homeobloc, we effectively remodel the upper arch, correct the jaw position, and make more room for the tongue to rest comfortably, keeping the airway clear. Head posture improves. The muscles for swallowing and breathing get stronger.
If teeth remain crooked, there’s now room for them to be aligned through standard orthodontic methods.
Parafunctional habits such as thumb-sucking, cheek- and lip-biting, mouth breathing, and the like can have a deeply negative effect on orofacial development. Myobrace is a good option for helping correct these habits while also encouraging the full development of the jaws and dental arches, creating plenty of room for the teeth to come in naturally straight.
With this pre-orthodontic device, standard ortho sometimes isn’t even required at all.
Like Homeobloc and ALF, Myobrace uses very light forces to effect these changes, and is accompanied by exercise-like activities designed to instill proper breathing, swallowing, and orofacial habits.
A slightly bulkier – yet still lightweight and comfortable – appliance, Myobrace is designed to be worn during sleep and then just one hour each day. And because it improves both the size of the airway as well as myofunctional (muscle function) habits, relapse is less likely, whether or not any additional orthodontic intervention is called for.
Putting It Together: A Whole-Person Approach
Whichever type of appliance is used, it can’t do all the work on its own. When bite and alignment issues are in play, the whole body is affected.
So we work closely with allied professionals such as osteopaths to work on the postural alignment issues that occur as the body tries to compensate for the imbalances caused by various malocclusions.
We also recommend complementary treatments such as myofunctional therapy, a kind of physical therapy for the face and mouth muscles that strengthens them while instilling good oral habits to maintain balance over the long run.
Above all, we encourage you and/or your child to take an active role in creating the changes needed for a wide-open airway and healthier smile that supports your and/or their total health. We offer you all the resources, information, and motivation we can so you can embrace that role fully.