Myobrace - A natural approach to managing orthodontic problems
As you see orthodontic problems developing in your child, you might be questioning the conventional wisdom of doing nothing, and waiting until around the age of 11-12 years when your child’s facial structures have stopped growing.
Perhaps you had extraction of healthy permanent teeth to relieve dental crowding prior to braces as a child, and you do not want this for your child. Or maybe you had your teeth straightened with braces, only to have them become crooked again later down the track. You may even be aware of someone who had to resort to invasive jaw surgery to resolve the problem.
There are 2 main problems with the traditional watchful waiting orthodontic approach.
Firstly, dealing with crooked teeth is addressing only the symptom of poorly developing faces and jaws. The problem is that since industrialisation, faces and jaws have not been developing out as fully. We know there are a number of factors starting from birth that can prevent the face from developing to its full potential. If we don’t address root causes, then the results will tend to be unstable.
Secondly, waiting until a child has completed most of their facial growth means missing the window to influence a child’s face and jaws to be fully expressed.
In today’s world, there is a lot of awareness on how snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea are linked to a wide range of health problems. Western medicine relies on medication and surgery to deal with these problems throughout life, without addressing the root causes.
The reality is that when faces and jaws are not developing fully, the airways are smaller and more collapsible. The tongue has less space to fit properly in the mouth. Breathing and sleep are disturbed. In children, research has shown that poor oxygenation of the brain during the earliest years of life can damage the brain. It can impact cognitive function and has been linked to attention and behavioural problems.
Breath is critical to life. This is why many influential sleep leaders, orthodontists and dentists around the world are focusing on addressing root causes, so that faces and airways can grow more fully.
Addressing root causes
Myobrace is an alternative to traditional orthodontics that addresses the abnormal muscle habits that contribute to crooked teeth. Rather than waiting for the permanent teeth come through, the best time to start therapy is when poor habits are first observed and your child is able to understand the goals of treatment.
One of the most prevalent habits it addresses in children is mouth breathing. This video demonstrates how the tongue has a lowered posture, altering the normal muscle balance and restricting normal palatal development.
When a child uses their nose to breathe as nature intended, they breathe in cleaner, moister and more oxygen rich air. Sleep is more refreshing and restorative.
Mouth breathing in children as young as 6 months has been linked to and increased risk of behavioural and social-emotional problems by the ages of 4 and 7 years. This raises the importance of healthy nasal breathing.
Other children with poor habits will include those with a history of
Restricted tongue ties
Prolonged use of dummies and sippy cups
Removal of adenoids and tonsils
Chronic nasal congestion and allergies
Avoidance of hard foods
Weaker muscle tone related to prematurity
When we address root causes earlier, habits are easier to break. Once old habits have been replaced with new ones, a child’s facial structure can be expressed more fully towards their genetic potential.
There is more room for all the permanent teeth to fit in with less need for braces, and extractions. Beyond straighter teeth a child can have broader smiles, improved airways, less likelihood of abnormal sleep breathing, and consequent cognitive and neuro-behavioural problems.
The Myobrace approach
This video featuring US orthodontist Dr Barry Raphael provides an excellent overview of this approach.
Rather than focusing purely on straightening teeth, this approach focuses first and foremost on correcting poor muscle patterns.
It involves several elements including
Myobrace appliances to retrain normal resting tongue posture and good lip seal
Myobrace activities or exercises to be completed for at least 2 mins a day by the child
Palatal expander devices to widen the jaw and make more room for the tongue to rest and function properly (not required in every child).
A myofunctional evaluation is the first step to identify any poor habits and the impact this has had on their facial development. Dr Shereen Lim will provide specific advice for your child following full assessment.
Whilst this approach has been used throughout the world for over two decades, it is not as widely used in Australia where the system is originally from.
One of the major barriers to predictable success is compliance. Compared to braces, it requires co-operation of the child to re-pattern poor habits. If you find it a constant struggle to get your child to do their homework or music practice, then this approach may not be the right one for them.
The primary outcome is to retrain healthier muscle patterns and encourage better development of the jaws. This will allow more room for the permanent teeth to fit without extractions. It does not guarantee braces will not be required later for all patients. If they are you can expect tooth movements will be more minor, less likelihood of the known risks of braces, and a more stable result.
Dr Shereen Lim has chosen to use this system based on her insights gained through a formal sleep medicine qualification, experience managing abnormal sleep breathing in adults, and clinical observation and continuing education by world leading practitioners using this system.
To find out more about this system, please visit the Myobrace website
To book a Myofunctional Evaluation and determine a pathway of treatment for your child please contact us.