Dental Facial Orthopedics

Understanding Growth of the Upper Jaw and Airway Development

Dental Facial Orthopedics is the term for guiding the growth of facial skeletal structures aiding in eruption of the permanent teeth, full expression of facial features and proper airway development. Fabricated according to specific radiographic measurements, dental facial orthopedic appliances (which look like "fancy retainers") apply gentle pressure to the upper and lower jaws stimulating bone growth and removing obstacles in the bite. This subtle pressure allows the jaws to grow creating necessary space for the eruption of permanent teeth. Likewise, this growth allows the airway to develop completely, the TMJ joints to function properly and facial structures like the nose and the chin to be more esthetic and balanced on the child's face. The philosophy of Dental Facial Orthopedics is to be preventative (aid in eruption of teeth) verses reactive (pull crowded teeth in a too small arch).

By helping kids facial skeletal structures develop to their full potential, the need for traditional orthodontics (moving teeth) is minimized and the treatment time decreased. Braces are then used when the child is a teenager for smile esthetics only. The need to pull permanent teeth or have the child under-go extensive orthognathic surgery is very unlikely.

The philosophy of Dental Facial Orthopedics is to be preventative (aid in eruption of teeth) verses reactive (pull crowded teeth in a too small arch).

orthopedic appliance

Dental Facial Orthopedics:

  • Preventative vs. Reactive

  • Allows facial skeletal structures to develop to their full potential

  • Allows the airway to develop completely

  • Allows TMJ joints to function properly

  • Promotes esthetic facial feature development

  • Minimizes the need and treatment time for traditional orthodonics

Pediatric Patient

Why Dental Facial Orthopedics is important at Vondrak Dental

As a general dentist, I have always believed in educating myself. My intent is provide the highest level of care everyday to every patient. Throughout this journey, it became evident that patients with Temporomandibular joint pain (TMD) were underserved, suffering and looking for answers. My mission became helping these individuals with more than just managing symptoms, I wanted to know the source of their problems. Our approach to splint therapy is unique, comprehensive, and health-centered. We are grateful to help so many.

BUT, this wasn’t enough... I wanted to know WHY? What were the patterns & similarities among these TMD patients?


By understanding the mechanics of why underdeveloped jaws lead to TMD, I discovered how to work with children using DENTAL FACIAL ORTHOPEDIC APPLAINCES. Mold growth, develop jaws...prevent TMD!

Coincidentally, (or not)…. my daughter’s medical condition leaves her susceptible to TMD. At age 5, her jaws were already popping & age 8 they are not! I am grateful for this knowledge and for my mentors. I will continue to learn and seek out answers to difficult problems. This is health-centered dentistry!

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Additional Benefits of Orthopedic Appliances

Controlling the function of the tongue is another an important aspect of facial growth and development. At Vondrak Dental, all children are assessed for tongue and lip ties as well as tongue thrusting. If a tongue thrust is identified the appliance design is modified to include a spinner and or a tongue crib. These features help the child correct the position of the tongue when swallowing and speaking. By correcting a tongue thrust, the child will swallow, speak and breathe better for long term health.

See Frenectomies to correct tounge and lip ties.