What are functional appliances used in orthodontics?
These are dentofacial orthopedic appliances that constrain and later fully modify the position of the mandible or maxilla, especially in severe orthodontic cases.
Types of functional orthodontic appliances
They can be fixed appliances (removable by means of medical intervention only) or mobile (removable by patients).
- Mobile appliances are of many types and they address to various problems: the reduction of overbite, the expansion of the palate, pushing forward the mandible, etc. Some of these appliances (i.e. headgears) can be connected to dental braces to correct severe malocclusion issues. They can also be attached to palate expanders. Orthodontic masks are a solution for young patients when the maxilla and the mandible don’t grow at the same pace, thus creating an overjet, and, also, to make room for other teeth. The number of hours needed to wear them differs from one case to another.
- Fixed appliances are used to push forward the mandible, as well as to correct vertical supraocclusion in young patients.
For some patients that wear fixed functional appliances, social integration may be problematic due to both the visible aspect of the appliance and the problems associated to this age. It is recommended that parents sought professional help to assist the child in coping with this issue.