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Myth-Busting Orthodontic Treatment Claims

Posted August 4, 2015

Myths and Facts: OrthodonticsWhen we think about orthodontic treatment, lots of us think about getting crowded, crooked teeth into proper alignment.

But orthodontics corrects a great many oral health issues. However, for all of its benefits, orthodontic treatment sometimes gets credited a bit too much for curing a variety of ailments. In this post, Dr. Mark Bronsky busts several myths related to orthodontic treatment.

Myth: Orthodontic treatment can cure temporomandibular joint disorder.

Fact: This often isn’t true, Dr. Bronsky says. Getting your teeth into proper alignment doesn’t magically make TMJ disorder go away. The truth is lots of professionals who advance this misinformation do so because they are selling sleep appliances.

“There is very little that one can associate between the way teeth make contact with each other and joint function,” he says. “But we can figure out if the bite contributes to any joint dysfunction.”

This is done by prescribing a night guard to wear on the upper teeth. If the symptoms go away or are reduced, then there probably is an association between your bite and your joint discomfort. But it is important to keep in mind that statistically, there are as many people who have TMJ problems and a perfect bite, as those without.

Myth: Orthodontic treatment can help chronic headache sufferers.

Fact: This myth is the result of the same erroneous association to malocclusion as TMJ disorder, Dr. Bronsky says. You may have malocclusion and chronic headaches together, or they could be separate. But one doesn’t necessarily cause the other.

If you grind or clench your teeth at night, tell us. We can fit you for a diagnostic splint and monitor you over several months to see if your condition improves. If so, we can conclude that bite-related dysfunction is present.

“When we can provide a mechanism that gives someone complaining of headaches or TMJ disorder an artificially good bite and the patient sees improvement, then we can make that leap that the two are connected,” Dr. Bronsky says.

Myth: Orthodontic treatment can cure Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Fact: This is a new frontier and suddenly lots of dental professionals are diagnosing everything as OSA and pushing sleep appliances. The truth is the platinum standard for diagnosis is to have a sleep study to confirm this serious condition.

Our office works with sleep medicine specialists when we have patients with OSA.

“Moving teeth around almost never fixes OSA,” Dr. Bronsky says. “Moving teeth in conjunction with surgery can help alleviate the issue.”

Tell us if you suspect that you have OSA, and we can refer you to a sleep study specialist. We recommend going to a hospital-based sleep center, and avoid practices that tell you they can diagnose OSA without a sleep study. That is physiologically impossible.

Myth: Orthodontic treatment can correct tongue thrust.

Fact: This may shock you, but there is no such thing as tongue thrust.

“It’s a chicken or the egg argument,” Dr. Bronsky says. “The tongue finds available space; it occupies the available anatomy. It doesn’t create the space.”

One study determined the amount of time the tongue is in contact with the teeth is about 14.5 minutes in a 24-hour period. The amount of time the tongue is in contact is so miniscule, it can’t possibly move the teeth.

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We hope the information we’ve shared has been helpful to you. Please call our office to schedule a consultation if you would like to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment.