Simply put, Orthotropics® is a specific type of “Facial Growth Guidance.” You mean the facial growth can be influenced? YES. Many studies have shown that the way the face grows can be negatively affected by postural changes – for example, by mouth breathing. So, if the face can change for the worse with improper posture, Orthotropics® is basically changing it for the better with proper posture.
Within the NAAFO, the term Orthotropics® is only used to describe the technique which involves maxillary expansion and forward development of the maxillary anterior teeth, followed by the wearing of an appliance which postures the mandible forward without allowing the mandible to retract the maxilla, all with the goal of optimizing rest oral posture. While the Mews have said, “Eight is too late, Orthotropics® is most effective from ages 5 to 9 or 10. It can work for some children who are even older, but the results may be more limited and larger spacing may result between upper back teeth.
Other methods are also used for facial growth guidance, such as reverse-pull headgear, myofunctional therapy, etc. These are sometimes used as adjuncts to Orthotropics®.
There are many reasons for the mouth posture to have been altered from the ideal, and it can often happen very early on in life. Breastfeeding, diet, nutrition, and allergies are all factors that can influence oral posture. Orthotropics® seeks to work toward optimal rest oral posture, and thereby undo the structural damage to the face that may have occurred when the posture was not correct. To the degree that the oral posture is corrected, the changes will be permanent and stable. But the treatment results will not be stable to the degree that the oral posture is not corrected.
Typically, upper and lower jaws will fail to grow horizontally due to improper oral posture. They drop down and back. If the lower drops more than the upper, it can look like upper front teeth “stick out.” However, in actuality the entire upper jaw is too far back in the face, and needs to be corrected by being brought up and out. The upper jaw also usually needs widening to form a palatal shape that will accommodate normal tongue posture (up against the roof of the mouth).
Then the lower jaw is encouraged to grow forward by teaching the child to hold the teeth together, lips together and the tongue to the roof of the mouth. While this is not always easy for the child, it works! The results of Orthotropics® are often compared to the alternative of jaw surgery rather than to traditional orthodontics, which often fixes the bite by bringing the upper teeth backward. Orthotropics® tries to avoid pulling teeth backwards and, in doing so, has been shown to increase the airway size and make the face more attractive than conventional orthodontics.