Functional Jaw Orthopedics

Woman holding jaw in pain

Functional Jaw Orthopedics, also called FJO, aim to treat crowded teeth and jaw correction without the removal of teeth. By ensuring that the jaw is in the correct position and size, it can create health benefits for growing children. While traditional orthodontics treats a child’s jaw by the time it stops growing, FJO focuses on the jaw and facial development that guides the facial structure to prevent more serious problems in the future.

How FJO Treatment Works:

The traditional route for many orthodontists would be to refer patients for treatment until their permanent teeth have begun to erupt at age 7, which is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists. FJO treatment, however, works to prevent the removal of teeth by focusing on the child’s method of breathing, the size of their palate, and overall facial balance. This modern approach that our doctors at Burns Orthodontics practice all have ample experience in, and we practice FJO treatment in three, easy steps:

1. Breaking Habits – These habits can include thumb-sucking, tongue thrusts, and correcting crossbites. By treating these symptoms early, we can allow normal facial growth to continue to develop until age seven, where we diagnose and analyze the progress of the child’s development.

2. Guiding Growth – The second phase works to guide the growth of the jawbone and teeth into more favorable positions. We enact this step at around age seven through nine and look for abnormal development issues, such as a narrow upper jaw and crooked teeth.

3. Moving Teeth – The last phase focuses on moving the teeth once they’ve all erupted. This phase is what many would associate with orthodontics, and generally involves the movement of teeth through applications such as braces, aligners, and enhancers.

Notice: Not all children will require these phases of treatment, but if there’s a facial imbalance and there’s not enough room for the teeth to erupt, then early treatment can help correct these misalignments. Typically, those who require teeth removable have not had FJO treatment, and while the extraction of teeth can improve facial imbalances, FJO treatment can also help as a preventative measure.

Functional jaw growth orthopedics

The Benefits of Guiding Jaw Growth

FJO treatment can improve the position of the jaw, causing fewer headaches. Widening the palate with an expansion device can reduce and remove common symptoms associated with obstructed nasal breathing, including dark circles under the eyes, dry lips, and open mouth posture. Improving the jaw can change the way the tonsils and nasal septums form, which can improve sleep quality and prevent sleep apnea in the future. Those with improved jaw function also tend to experience a better quality of life, gaining more attention in school, work, and other life activities.

While FJO treatment is not a universal standard among orthodontists, we offer a growing demand for early treatment plans for all of our patients. We hope to give your child the most benefits when they arrive at any one of our offices. If you have any concerns regarding our orthodontic services, please contact us at any one of our locations and schedule an appointment with us today!