Creating a properly-aligned bite
Functional appliances are devices used to correct a significant disharmony in the relationship between the upper and lower jaws. They work by influencing the growth and development of the jaw of a young patient. The most common use of a functional appliance is to encourage the forward growth of a retrusive or under-developed lower jaw. The functional appliance holds the lower jaw forward over a period of time, until the teeth, jaws, and joints have adapted and the desired jaw position has been obtained.
The effectiveness of a functional appliance depends on:
- How often the appliance is worn
- How quickly the patient is growing
When are functional appliances used?
Functional appliances are typically used in two common situations. The first situation is when the protrusion of the lower jaw is very severe. The functional appliance plate is used to reduce the protrusion, then braces are placed on the teeth later. The movement of the jaw by the functional appliance improves the final result of the braces.
The second common situation for using a functional appliance is for a less severe protrusion of the lower jaw where the teeth are fairly straight or where there is some slight upper arch spacing needed. In some cases, wearing the functional appliance produces good results, and the patient does not have to wear braces at all.
A properly-aligned bite helps create a beautiful smile
Functional appliances align the jaws not the teeth, so they are usually used as a first stage of orthodontic treatment, specifically for a young patient whose jaw is still growing and who has significant jaw disharmony. The second stage of treatment is the alignment of the teeth with fixed appliances (braces). The final result is a properly-aligned bite and straight teeth, which help maintain proper chewing, clear speech, and excellent oral health.