How Orthodontia Helps Free Obstructed Airways
In early growth and development, there is a remarkable cycle of events that occur along the airway
structures through the course of proper breathing. Under normal conditions, the tongue stays high and
naturally coaxes the upper palate to expand over time. When the upper jaw expands, the nasal passages
grow along with it, promoting efficient nose breathing and all the long-term benefits that go along with it: better sleep, fewer illnesses, better cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and better school and
There are some instances, however, when this proper development doesn’t take place, resulting in
obstructed airways that never perform to their full potential. When young kids breathe primarily through
their mouth, this is an indication the cycle of development has been disrupted. Mouth breathing requires a low tongue position to make the most of the air coming in. A low tongue position prevents the tongue from pressing against and expanding the roof of the mouth, resulting in a narrowed nasal cavity and obstructed breathing. It can also create a narrowed tongue, which further compounds the problem.
The symptoms of obstructed airways present differently in children and adults and can include:
Identifying and correcting these important airway structures is imperative to helping kids and adults
achieve their full health and developmental potential. Pronounced mouth breathing is the most inefficient way to deliver oxygen to the body and the brain and has been known to cause or worsen conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma.
Young patients who have already had their tonsils and adenoids removed with little relief could benefit
from orthodontic treatments that can make the most of the increased space.Studies have shown that
patients with airway obstruction have benefitted from oral appliances that guide the development of their upper and lower jaws. Palate expanders, for instance, can have a dramatic effect on nasal and sinus
passages, which expand along with the palate. As the passages grow to their full potential, patients find
that breathing through their noses not only becomes easier but also second nature. And that is a very
strong step toward proper brain and body health.
Some dentists will claim there is a difference between “traditional orthodontia” and "functional orthodontia.” At Orthodontics by Crutchfield, we know the relationship between form and function is much more closely related. Our job as your orthodontic team is to give you the most authentic smile on the best possible foundation, giving you the look you want and the comfortable bite, speech clarity, airway improvement, oral health, and overall wellness you deserve. Function will always come first and form will follow, as will the results that last a lifetime.
Schedule your free airway and orthodontic consultation now.
If you are familiar with our practice, you know we preach “proper care at the proper time,” but what does this mean exactly?
For our youngest patients, it means patience.
“While there are a handful of exceptions, most alignment issues benefit from more time,” says Dr. Crutchfield. “Applying braces at this stage won’t guarantee a perfect smile later on nor will it prevent braces from being needed in the teenage years.”
Dr. Crutchfield created the “Hanging Loose Club” at his Chantilly orthodontics practice specifically for the patients who may or may not require braces at a later time. He offers free evaluations for kids as young as seven and eight to help families determine their options and choices.
Learn more about the Hanging Loose Club.
For our pre-teen and teenage patients, it means coordinated care.
The adolescent years are marked by huge growth and change opportunities, which means it is an ideal time for orthodontics if they are necessary. “Braces may seem like they are synonymous with the teenage years, but they aren’t always needed or necessary,” adds Crutchfield. “We evaluate and determine the best course of action given each patient’s situation.”
Since our office features some of the latest high-tech orthodontics on the market, we also have several orthodontics options for our teenagers that are easy on growing mouths, parent schedules, and family budgets. After all, the fewer appointments mom has to worry about, the better for the whole family.
For our adult patients, it means flexibility and lasting results.
Today’s adult orthodontic options, which include Invisalign, Suresmile and Damon Clear Braces, improved results while reducing treatment time and unnecessary office visits. We use state-of-the-art imaging software design the best possible course of action for your orthodontic care. No surprises. No hidden fees. No crazy scheduling. The result is a better orthodontic experience and result for you.
“Braces have come a long way since straight wires and brackets, and it’s easier than ever for adults to get the smile, bite relief, and airway clarity they’ve always wanted,” said Dr. Crutchfield. “We have efficient ways to maximize your unique facial profile and tooth position to create a smile that is as natural and authentic as you are.”
At Orthodontics by Crutchfield, we encourage scheduling a free evaluation or getting a second opinion, particularly for young children. We’ll make sure you have the right information you need to make an informed decision, and we’ll be here for you when you’re ready to make it.
“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” said Will Rogers. But the multi-talented actor probably wasn’t talking about dental molds.
Traditionally, the only way to get a clear look at the shape, alignment, and positioning of a patient’s teeth was to fill a dental tray full of thick impression material, insert it into the patient’s mouth, and wait for it to set up. While mostly effective, it is no one’s favorite activity; traditional impressions can be messy, uncomfortable, and, for a few patients, a little too close for comfort with their gag reflex. The other bad news is that the accuracy of your impression depends not only on the skill of the technician, but also on the temperature and humidity of the air and the temperature of the water used to make the mix. All of these errors can add up and adversely affect the result.
“Dental impressions leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths,” said Dr. Bill Crutchfield, an orthodontist in Chantilly, Virginia. “That’s one of the reasons why we don’t do them anymore. The more important reason, though, is because we have much better alternatives that allow us to see more, capture it more accurately, and do more with the information without torturing our patients.”
Dr. Crutchfield is referring to the high-resolution imagery technology now available in his practice, and in orthodontic practices around the country. Through 3-D digital imagery, more information can be captured, assessed and manipulated; instead of just getting the external tooth shape and position, now orthodontists have access to bone structures, jaw placement, bite, tooth movement, and airway. This eliminates those ghastly impressions, but also the need for multiple X-rays.
“In our practice, patient experience and patient results are two of the strongest guiding principles for our care,” adds Dr. Crutchfield. “Adding a comfortable and painless digital “impression” method is crucial to giving the best of both.”
From 3D modeling to high-resolution imagery of the entire jaw, skull, and underlying tooth structures, the technology in today’s orthodontist offices feels more like science fiction these days. The results, however, are as real as they come.
Today’s computerized orthodontia features state-of-the-art imaging scanners, the latest in 3D printers, and customized smile design. While impressive and effective, it is simply another tool for skilled orthodontists to address and correct oral health issues for all ages of patients.
“It certainly is an exciting time for orthodontics,” says Dr. Bill Crutchfield. “I’m glad to see us move away from unnecessary extractions and the one-size-fits-all wires and brackets system. Every smile and patient present a unique challenge, and they should receive a customized treatment plan that reflects their particular needs.”
Orthodontists now have a wider variety of tools and methods to treat a variety of conditions, and in-office cone beam CT scanners provide much more information than conventional x-rays, reducing the need for multiple visits and consultations.
“Being able to manipulate high-definition imagery and play through a variety of scenarios is one of the biggest advancements in the industry,” states Dr. Crutchfield. “We can account for changes and make adjustments to treatment plans before we even get started. The patient experience is better, the results are better, and the length of treatment time is shorter. There are very few downsides.”
In fact, high-tech orthodontia isn’t just bringing more smiles to patients. “Technology is letting us help more patients and do more with our skills and experience, and that’s a very good thing,” adds Dr. Crutchfield. “I know my staff and I are smiling more, too.”
Like growth spurts and voice changes, braces have become a recognizable milestone of adolescence. It’s an ideal time for orthodontic treatment for many reasons, mostly because it takes advantage of the rapid body changes and growth as the body prepares for adulthood; applying orthodontics at this stage can shorten treatment time dramatically, whether we are adjusting for cosmetic, oral health, or airway functionality reasons.
We believe it’s important to treat teenagers for several oral health issues before they become painful, embarrassing, or problematic. Bite issues, gaps between teeth, overcrowded and crooked teeth can be corrected with the help of orthodontics. The care taken at this time of life sets up your child for better oral health for the rest of their lives.
There are several options available when considering which orthodontic treatment modality will be best for your child. Here are a few of the options we offer at Orthodontics by Crutchfield:
Invisalign uses a 3-D image of your mouth to create custom clear aligners that guide your teeth to their desired position. There are no braces just a series of clear “aligners”. Each thin aligner gently guides the teeth into their desired positions. While removable, Invisalign must be worn at least 22 hours each day to be effective. Not every situation can be addressed with Invisalign treatrment.
Best braces orthodontic treatment for: Teenagers who already have good hygiene, are dependable and who understand the importance of consistent use.
Not great for: Teenagers who are not able (or who tend to forget) to wear the aligners for at least 22 hours. Teenagers who practice or play sports with a mouthguard more than three hours a day may find it difficult to wear the aligners the required minimum of daily hours.
Suresmile combines braces with the latest 3D technology in orthodontics. The result is a highly customized look and functionality that not only is more precise, but also more efficient. An added benefit of Suresmile is that it produces better results while reducing treatment times by about 30%. And that’s something that makes all teenagers (and their parents) happy.
Best care for: Teens and almost everyone.
Not great for: Teenagers who want to avoid the “look” of braces or who do not care about their results, even if the treatments take longer.
Damon Smile System
Unlike traditional braces, which use elastic bands hold the orthodontic wire (the active component of braces systems) in place, Damon braces employ a passive sliding mechanism that reduces friction, pressure, and the constant need for adjustments. As a result, treatment times and discomfort are also reduced. The Damon Smile System has been clinically proven to align teeth and enhance facial aesthetics reducing the need for palate expanders, tooth extraction, or continually tightened wires. At Orthodontics by Crutchfield, the Damon Smile System is combined with Suresmile technology for the best synergistic orthodontic care for our patients.
Best orthodontic care system for: Teens who love discrete brackets and who fit the conditions for treatment under the Damon Smile System.
Not great for: Teenagers who don’t like the look and feel of braces. The Damon Smile system is regarding as one of the most sophisticated care systems in orthodontics today. Dr. Crutchfield exclusively uses the Damon Smile System for all of his braces patients.
Our goal is to help teens achieve a lasting outcome with a proper bite, spacing, and oral health. “The right braces give your teenager something to smile about for a lifetime,” says Dr. Bill Crutchfield at Orthodontics by Crutchfield. “And a smiling teenager is always a great thing.”
Invisalign has been available for adult tooth alignment for almost twenty years, and in that time, more than 2.4 million people around the world have experienced its ability to straighten smiles. An excellent choice for crowding, gapped teeth, spacing and bite issues, Invisalign uses a 3-D image of your teeth to map out your customized treatment.
The process works by creating a series of clear aligners, each progressively adjusting the position of your teeth until they reach their final (and optimal) destination. Many patients find they offer a great alternative to braces, especially since they are barely noticeable, can be removed when eating, and don’t get in the way of most activities. Treatment time will vary depending upon how far teeth need to move, the amount of correction needed, and how diligent you are about wearing the aligners.
“We can’t deny the popularity or the effectiveness of Invisalign and the products that are following in its footprints,” said Dr. Crutchfield. “For a number of adult patients, it’s an easy, manageable, and affordable way to straighten teeth and improve smiles.”
It’s not, however, for everyone. “In reality, there are limits to what both Invisalign--and patients--can do,” he continued. “For instance, Invisalign is not as effective in treatment large jaw discrepancies. And it puts the responsibility for the quality and timing of the result on the patient since they have to keep in the trays in for at least 22 hours a day. It can be a lot to do for people who keep busy schedules, do a lot of talking with their jobs, or who prefer treatment that is less hands-on.
Luckily, Dr. Crutchfield and his team offer several options to give you the great smile you’ve always wanted. “While we do use Invisalign, our other options, such as SureSmile, can often deliver a much more custom and authentic smile in less time,” he added.
Ready to see which option is the right fit for you? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Crutchfield today.