The MOST Important Thing I Have Learned About Orthodontics

The MOST Important Thing I Have Learned About Orthodontics

By Nancy Wiley, DDS

When making the very important decision of choosing an orthodontist, or any kind of dental or medical professional for yourself or your child, it is necessary to do research to find out how one differentiates from another. Just as we all have individual personalities and interests, doctors and dentists have different philosophies that affect the treatment of their patients, often related to their education and training. I encountered the single biggest influence on my professional future, Dr. Melvin Moss, while I was a resident at Columbia University Dental School. Dr. Moss taught us that “Form Follows Function.” What this means is that the structure of the mouth and teeth are impacted by how the muscles in the mouth, such as the tongue, work. Dr. Moss would stand at his lectern, screaming this at us, his students, leaving me feeling scared of him. However, in the years since, I have studied the research for which he has become internationally known and has seen the principles he embraced at work in my own practice. While most orthodontists are not taught and do not understand this principle, in my over 25 years of experience, I have come to realize that 95-98% of the orthodontic issues that I see in my patients can be explained by Dr. Moss’s “Form Follows Function” principle.

So … what does this mean to the layperson? Basically, 4 muscular imbalances cause almost all of the problems that lead to the need for orthodontic treatment.

Those are:

Mouth breathing, a short lingual frenum (the band or string of tissue under the tongue), sucking habits (fingers, thumb, pacifier, bottle, breast, tongue, etc.), and teeth clenching and/or grinding

The first three are very much related and can lead to similar problems. The most common issues include:

Having a narrow palate and constricted dental arches, leading to crowding of the teeth, impacted teeth, gingival recession, crossbites and underbites, overjet (also known as bucked teeth), open bites, disruption of normal facial growth (also known as long face syndrome), speech delays and impediments, digestive and gastric issues, and snoring and sleep apnea (which have been linked to ADD and ADHD).

The fourth behavior, clenching/grinding, has a different set of problems associated with it. These actions can lead to:

A deep bite, crowded dental arches, premature wear of the teeth, and Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). Symptoms include jaw popping, cracking, and locking, which can lead to headaches and migraines.

Educating ourselves about the causes, symptoms, and effects of our children’s (and our own) function is important to us, as parents, because we CAN change the course of our children’s history IF we find clinicians who are properly educated and trained. We cannot see what we do not know, and we cannot correct what we cannot see! In my experience, very few orthodontists, pediatric dentists, pediatricians, general dentists, ENTs, speech pathologists, and allergists are trained to detect these problems. Rather, they are trained to treat the symptoms and effects. My question is, “Why would you just treat the symptoms when you can also treat the root cause?” If this resonates with you, please come see us and how we are different. At Nancy Wiley Orthodontics, we are passionate about everything we do. Please let OUR passion transform YOUR life!

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