Is Jaw Functional Orthopedics Right for my Child?

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Written and Medically Reviewed by

Medically Reviewed

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts. Dr. Daniel Cho strives to provide unbiased and honest feedback regarding dental topics. This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Ensuring optimal jaw growth for your child is crucial for their overall health and well-being. There are various methods available, many involving appliances that can be either fixed or removable. Popular options include the Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE), the Vivos Guide, and the Myomunchee. While these methods aim for the same outcome, the processes vary, similar to choosing different modes of transportation to reach the same destination.

You can walk, run, bike, drive or fly to get from point A to point B, but depending on the terrain and distance, one method will be better and more efficient than another. This same concept applies to the growth of the jaws.

Why is Jaw Growth / Jaw Size Important?

The most obvious reason proper jaw growth is important is to allow for enough room for the teeth to properly grow in. This prevents extraction of adult teeth during traditional orthodontic treatment. Other potential reasons include a reduction of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) problems, better nasal breathing and reduction in sleep and breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). 

Helping the jaws to grow to their full potential has a myriad of functional and esthetic benefits. In the same way the modern pug has various breathing ailments, humans with undersized jaws can have similar problems. When the jaws of your child fully grow, they have a better chance to live a more fulfilled life.

What Are The Differences Between Jaw Functional Orthopedics And Traditional Methods?

Jaw Functional Orthopedics (JFO) takes a more holistic approach to the growth and development of jaws. It truly takes the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of the cure” to heart. JFO starts as early as before the baby is even born. Once the baby is born, there are simple concepts that go a long way to guide proper growth. For example, at very early ages, JFO recommends whole foods to encourage proper chewing techniques. When the child gets a little older and starts primary school, JFO has other interventions and also uses appliances, among other techniques.

Traditional methods of JFO are typically introduced at older ages, once the problem has already begun. These methods are used to correct an existing problem, not prevent them. In an ideal scenario, there would be no need for any intervention (such as appliances or surgery) when using JFO concepts, as the jaws develop to their full potential.

JFO also uses the body’s natural movements as the primary source of stimulation to help guide growth. This is a stark difference from the very common rapid palatal expander (RPE). A rapid palatal expander puts pressure on the teeth, which stimulates the growth of the jaws. JFO also approaches the entire Stomatognathic System, as opposed to just the jaws themselves. This helps to potentially reduce problems in the future, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders or other breathing issues.

To put it simply, Jaw Functional Orthopedics aims to prevent the problem to begin with and uses a more holistic approach when compared to traditional methods to address not only the jaws but also the bones, nerves and muscles that support and surround the jaws.

Will Jaw Functional Orthopedics Work On My Child?

The concepts JFO use will work on almost every child. However depending on several factors it will be more effective on some children vs others. A few factors that determine the effectiveness are the child’s age, the severity of the case, and also the growth potential.

How Does My Child’s Age Affect Their Growth Potential?

The younger the child is, the more potential for growth there is. A 5 year old will have much higher potential for growth than a 15 year old. This is not to say that a 15 year old cannot receive treatment. However they will grow at a much slower pace than a younger counterpart. The earlier that the concepts can be applied, the less severe the problem will become.

How Do I Know What My Child’s Growth Potential Is?

Even children of the same age can have varying degrees of jaw growth. The upper and lower jaws can grow faster or slower compared to each other. This is accounted for during the creation of the treatment plan. For instance, a child with a high mandibular growth potential needs to have techniques applied that will not allow the mandible to grow too much. If done incorrectly, surgery is the primary way to correct the problem.

A Petrovic analysis is a tool that is used to quantify the growth of the child. By placing the child into one of six categories, the clinician can create a tailored treatment plan. This also prepares the parent and child for the length of treatment.

How Do I Find a Jaw Functional Provider?

This is an emerging technology within the United States. JFO is well established in numerous countries, however there very limited providers within the USA. If you are interested in finding more information, please contact us. We will help you find the nearest available provider.