IT’S MORE THAN STRAIGHT TEETH!  And why do some people appear radiant after orthodontic treatment` while others have straight teeth but an unnatural appearance to their smile?  The answers to these questions are found in a branch of orthodontics called Facial Orthopedics.  For many years orthodontists have been improving the appearance of young people and adults by straightening crowded or poorly aligned teeth.  However, some orthodontists have discovered there is more to an attractive smile than straight teeth.  More important than perfect alignment is the position of the front teeth related to the rest of the face. In a “winning smile”, the teeth must properly support the lips and not appear “tipped in”.  The upper teeth “fill the smile”.  The profile should look attractive and balanced.  These goals are not always accomplished by orthodontic treatment alone.

The bones of the upper and lower jaw are the foundation for the teeth.  The growth of the jaw is considered by some orthodontists to be genetically determined and unchangeable.  They wait until all permanent teeth are present and then determine whether there is enough room for the teeth.  If the teeth seem larger than the jaws, this orthodontist removes some teeth so that the others will fit the small jaws.  In other cases, if the lower jaw does not grow forward enough to match the upper, the upper teeth are pulled back against the lower teeth creating a very unnatural look.  The lips sink inward, making the nose appear large. The face has an unnatural appearance.  The teeth appear straight, but the face has changed.

Dr. Henken, who understands Facial Orthopedics, knows that the muscles surrounding the teeth and jaws play an important role in establishing proper jaw size and alignment.  Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, and improper swallowing have been targeted as prime causes of improper jaw development.  Dr. Henken believes that if the jaws are not properly formed, orthodontic “tooth repositioning” alone cannot create a balanced face and attractive smile.  The foundation must first be corrected if the end result is to be a fully natural “winning smile”.  Only facial orthopedics can do that.

Dr. Henken stresses that when dealing with intricate alignment, TMJ, Bite or craniofacial complexities, it is very important to seek care by a trained  Orthodontist.  The trend has been for some general dentists to venture into orthodontics, not realizing the full scope of the craniofacial/skeletal development.  The additional years of education and training equip Dr. Henken to deal with the full range of skeletal and developmental problems that he sees in his office every day.  Most important to Dr. Henken, is for his patients to understand the personalized treatment plan and to be excited to participate in achieving the best goal.  The result:  balance, harmony, and peace of mind that they have received the best orthodontic care.