Osteopathic Treatment and Orthodontics (Braces)

The Connection

Physical Therapists trained and experienced in the use of osteopathic manual therapy understand the importance of orthodontic dentistry as a means of improving jaw and tooth alignment and as an important factor in people’s health. Many dentists recognize the importance of craniosacral or craniomandibular osteopathic treatment as an integral part of assisting the body in making an orthodontic correction and in maintaining good health throughout the process. Understanding these mutual benefits requires an understanding of the connection between osteopathic treatments and orthodontia.

The proper alignment of teeth is dependent on a correct anatomical relationship of the upper jaw (maxilla) with the lower jaw (mandible). Changing tooth alignment requires changing not only the relationship of the maxilla to the mandible but also in complex relationships of these bones to several other bones of the face and skull. Osteopathic research demonstrates that all places where skull bones meet have significant capabilities of motion in infancy and childhood, and usually maintain motion throughout life. Although very little motion is permitted at any one of these joints, that motion is essential to allowing a successful orthodontic correction. Craniosacral osteopathic treatment assists orthodontic correction by helping all the bones of the skull to adjust to the orthodontic changes created.

In Canada, where physical therapists trained in osteopathic methods are relatively rare, there is a large potential for greater cooperation between physical therapists, orthodontists and dentists who recognize the importance of normal cranial mobility as a factor in the success of orthodontic correction. Through osteopathic manual therapy, the therapist can help the individual to better tolerate the orthodontic changes and can alert the dentist to the possible need to adjust the orthodontic plan. It is not uncommon to find that when osteopathic treatment accompanies orthodontia, the desired results are obtained in half to two-thirds the time estimated by the dentists, and the correction is more likely to hold well over time!

Orthodontic considerations

It is typical for the normal mobility of the cranium to be compromised somewhat during orthodontic correction. The degree to which this happens depends on the types of appliances used and on the ability of the patient to tolerate the changes brought about by the appliance. Most orthodontic corrective appliances fall into one to two categories—fixed or functional. Fixed appliances, such as braces or head-gear, hold firm the relationship of some teeth to other teeth. Because teeth are imbedded in bone, this rigid relationship of teeth to each other results in rigidity in the motion of the maxilla and mandible and, through them, limits the normal motion of other bones of the skull. Functional appliances, such as adjustable plate expanders, permit the cranial bones to retain more of their motion pattern during orthodontic procedures. They are, therefore preferable whenever they are capable of making the needed correction.

The topic of tooth extractions is a controversial one! While there are times when avoiding extractions makes the orthodontic treatment plan unreasonably lengthy and complex, it is best to keep all the teeth whenever possible. Removing the canine teeth, which serve as stabilizers of the jaw, can have profound negative consequences to the cranial mechanism and to the general health of the individual!

Tongue muscle action is a powerful force in shaping the developing oral cavity. When the tongue is not functioning properly within the mouth, speech, and breathing are also affected. Conditions such as respiratory allergies or asthma, which prompt mouth breathing, foster the development of an oral cavity that is more likely to need orthodontic correction. Children who continue to such their thumbs or to use a pacifier after the age of about 30 months are more likely to have orthodontic problems requiring attention. Sometimes the dentist may recommend myofunctional physical therapy in order to help correct the position and action of the tongue, before attempting orthodontia.

Health Challenges during Orthodontia

A person’s posture and overall health can suffer both when jaw alignment is poor and when jaw and teeth are undergoing orthodontic correction. It is ideal when the only complication of correction is the experience of pain in the teeth for one or two days aftr obtaining or adjusting an appliance. Unfortunately, some people suffer persistent headaches as a direct result of the compromise in bone and membrane mobility of the cranium.

With many years of daily practice in osteopathically-based craniosacral therapy, Fred Samorodin, Registered Physical Therapist is able to assess and treat body conditions that can help optimize the benefits of orthodontic dentistry.

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2 comments on “Osteopathic Treatment and Orthodontics (Braces)
  1. Greetings! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  2. Sharon Joyce says:

    I am 60 years old, and had braces put on about 3 months ago to straighten my teeth. No teeth were pulled. The dentist is widening my bite, so that the teeth can be straightened, and the overbite pulled back. I sucked my thumb when young, and was told by one orthodontist that that is probably why my mouth is so narrow, and the teeth overlapped and crowded. So far my teeth are moving rapidly, and painlessly.

    I see a osteopath in Colorado (I live in Phoenix, AZ), and she said I should have had the braces put on in conjunction with feedback from an osteopath to ensure the bones are not being moved as to impair functioning of other systems in the head. She recommended I try to find someone in the Phoenix area to consult with.

    I am hoping you can recommend someone I can see that can review how my braces were put on, and the plan to move the teeth and work with my orthodontist to make sure the osteopathic issues are being properly considered as to make sure the functionality is either maintained or improved.

    Please let me know if you know of anyone in the Phoenix area that could do this.

    Thank you very much!

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Fred has been my physiotherapist since 1988 when I first went to him after a bad car accident. He had helped me through my injuries using various techniques using both old and new inovated ways. I continue to go to him for what I call “tune ups” when my body gets out of whack from my job at fedex. He is always helpful in suggesting exercises to strengthen those areas.
Shannon Wong
Fred is a very well trained and gifted Physio Therapist. He gets results and I usually feel much better after a physio treatment. His various modalities and out of the box thinking help achieve a higher level of health, therefore I highly recommend Fred if you have body pain resulting from injuries due to motor vehicle accidents or other life trauma.
Kent KingOwnerVancouverFun Bus Tours
Fred is a talented physiotherapist, with a knack for finding health solutions when other physios and health professionals have been unable to help me. I have had treatments from Fred for back problems, and he resolved my issue quickly. He is a gentle healer with tons of integrity!
Barb Steele
I had massive migraine headaches ever since I was tossed from my bicycle at ten years of age. When in my 50’s I had a couple of treatments from Fred and I have not had a single migraine since. I am now in my 60’s. My husband had sciatica so bad at one point that he could not walk. We called Fred who came over to our house. In one hour, my husband was up and walking.
Cheryl BoegemanOwnerBoegeman Enterprises
Fred is a non-traditional physiotherapist who loves the challenge of working with chronic pain problems and assisting his clients to get to a better state in their health.
Janice WebberPresidentThe Connective Tissue Therapies Society
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My aim is to integrate the best of skills, service, education and resources in physical health to help clients recover from old or new traumas and go on to taking responsibility for their own self-care and make appropriate choices regarding their health and wellness.
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