Functional Orthodontic Appliances

Most orthodontic treatment involved the moving of teeth into better positions, using aligners or braces. For more serious conditions, such as a bite problem, orthodontics may recommend the use of functional appliances.

Understanding Functional Appliances

Functional appliances are used to harness the growth of the jaw and muscular activity in order to better bring the bite into alignment. There are several orthodontic appliances used, with the twin block appliance being one of them. Many of the functional appliances are in one piece, which can be bulky and uncomfortable for some patients.

The twin block is made with two pieces, for the upper and the lower jaw. Each of the halves is held to the teeth with flexible wires. When the jaws are closed, each half of the appliance meets, with the inclined meeting point surface encouraging the lower jaw to shift forward.

Functional appliances can be designed to be removable but may also be fixed in place when it is needed. They need to be worn 24 hours a day. Patients very often need to transition to another type of braces system to straighten their teeth once their treatment with the twin block has concluded.

At Dublin Orthodontists, we believe everyone deserves to have their best smile, and so offer affordable treatment plans to suit your particular needs.

As you can see in the above image, the twin block Functional Appliance is adjusted with a mechanism marked by the number 2 above.

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What can Functional Appliances treat

The twin block functional appliance can be used to lengthen the lower jaw, by moving it forward. It can only be used when the jaw is still growing during treatment, which means it is a better treatment option for younger orthodontic patients than for adults.

The twin block can treat the following conditions.

  • Retruded lower jaw
  • Deep bite or cross bite
  • Mandibular disorders
  • Temporary mandibular disorders
  • Overcrowding in the mouth
  • Breathing concerns as a result of a narrow or deep upper jaw

Jaw expansion offers the most successful results when it is performed on patients under the age of 16. Adults with a need for jaw expansion are better candidates for jaw surgery.

Functional Orthodontic Appliances

When the mouth of the patient closes, the two pieces of the twin block functional appliance meet at an inclined point. The lower jaw is encouraged to slightly move forward, which is what will help to encourage jaw bone growth. These appliances are not a useful option for adults as their jaw bones are typically not going to grow at the same pace as a younger patient’s would.

Children and adolescents can see the best results from wearing the twin block appliance.

Each time the patient takes a bite of food, swallows or talks, the appliance will be activated. These simple and normal actions exert gentle pressure on the dental arches and teeth while still offered stability to the joints of the jaw.

The treatment procedure is straightforward and very similar to that of getting fixed braces.

  • An orthodontist consultation is the first step in the process.
  • The positioning of the jaw and the overall health of the mouth will be evaluated.
  • Impressions, digital images and X-rays may be taken so that a precise and bespoke digital treatment plan can be created.
  • The twin block appliances will be created at an off-site laboratory.
  • Patients will return to the clinic to have the appliances places.
  • The appliance should be work for 24 hours a day.

The total length of treatment will be based upon the severity of the conditions that are being treated. The average patient will wear the twin block functional appliance for 9 to 12 months. The appliance will need to be worn 24 hours a day and should only be removed to be cleaned.

Minor adjustments and tightening may be needed during routine checkups every 4 to 6 weeks.

Benefits of Functional Appliances

Functional appliances, whether fixed or removable, produce a correct bite. They allow for easier breathing and ultimately result in straighter teeth. Patients who receive this orthodontic therapy can often avoid surgery later in life and may also be able to avoid the need for braces entirely if their teeth are straight.

If braces are required after the functional appliance treatment, the treatment time for the braces is often shorter than what would typically be seen.

Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment

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Potential drawbacks to Functional Appliances

It can prove to be more challenging to clean your teeth and the appliance itself if it is fixed in place. Your orthodontist will provide you with the right tools to help you keep your teeth and mouth clean during treatment.

Canker sores can become a concern for some patients, as they tend to appear where the metal parts of the appliance irritate the soft tissues of the mouth. They can be treated with over-the-counter remedies.

Speech will be altered with the twin block appliances in place. Patients will adjust with time, and their enunciation will return to normal after treatment.

There is some discomfort felt with these appliances but it can often be alleviated with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice packs.

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Get in Touch Today

Are you ready to take the first step to having the perfect smile?

Fill in the form below to avail of our FREE Consultation, where we will show you how we work, analyse your situation and give you an honest opinion on what treatment would suit your scenario.

Every patient is different, and so are their teeth, that is why every patient needs their own personalised treatment plan.

We offer Affordable Payment options to let you pay gradually over the treatment time, making orthodontic treatments possible for everyone.

We look forward to meeting you, and helping you take the first step to the smile you always dreamed of.

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Get in touch to book your consultation. Make an appointment or call us on our mobile number 0871515420 for more information.

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Love my new teeth. Just got my braces off and can’t thanks Claire enough. Totally recommend Dublin Orthodontist.


Thanks Dublin Orthodontist. Claire you are AMAZING so happy how my teeth turned out. Can’t stop smiling…

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