Episode 011 | Braces for Kids – What You need to Know


Hello and welcome to episode number eleven of Elmar´s Tooth Talk: The missing link to total health. I’m Dr Elmar Jung.

So, before we start let me tell you What’s in it for you in this episode:

We talk about:

  • What is Orthodontics
  • What is functional Orthodontics
  • What a functional Orthodontist does differently
  • What are the main reasons for jawbone anomalies
  • Why it is important to address misaligned teeth and jawbones
  • Why tooth extraction is not the best solution
  • When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment
  • How does a functional orthodontic treatment look like
  • Which appliances are used in functional orthodontics
  • Prof Balters favourite appliance the Bionator
  • How long does the treatment take
  • Additional therapies beneficial for orthodontic treatments 

We are talking about braces for kids.

Orthodontics is that part of dentistry which deals with straightening of teeth.

The dentist who specialises in this is called Orthodontist.  

Radiant smiles with healthy Hollywood white and obviously straight teeth that is what people nowadays aim for. That is some peoples’ idea of beauty. 

I still remember the time when my parents took me to the orthodontist because my teeth didn’t have enough space in the jaw. Back in those days, children screamed and cried when they had to have braces fitted. Because it looked so ugly and people knew something is not quite right with your teeth and obviously with you – well that is what kids think.  

Nowadays it’s the other way around. Teenagers complain if they don’t get braces fitted. They still look ugly but nowadays it is cool or whatever the word for it is. 

It’s a bit like walking around with holes in your trousers or in a tracksuit and finding it cool … but that’s a different story. 

According to statistics every third child has an abnormality that is in need of orthodontic treatment and the numbers increase.

What is the Orthodontist doing?

The goal of orthodontics is to correct misalignments of teeth and jaws and it aims for an ideal occlusion which is when the top and bottom teeth meet in harmony. This is what guarantees an optimum functioning of your bite. 

Well, at least that’s the theory. 

Nowadays like decades ago it looks like the primary goal is it has to look good. And for good looks we sacrifice healthy teeth and have them extracted to create more space in a too small mouth. 

BUT, this would only be necessary in very few cases.

The problem is not too big or too many teeth. The problem is a too small jawbone for the teeth. An underdeveloped jaw for reasons we discuss in a minute.

With traditional orthodontics the treatment consists mainly in corrective measures with fixed appliances which is simply a symptomatic treatment. 

In holistic orthodontics we do this differently. 

First a comprehensive consultation takes place.

A holistic Orthodontist does more than just check the appearance of teeth and how top and bottom teeth fit together, they also look at overall posture, look at how head, spine, shoulders, hips and legs align to each other.

Is one leg longer than the other? Is the spine strangely curved? Is one shoulder higher than the other? 

They also look at facts that influence the proper formation of the jaw bone and the positioning of teeth such as breathing and swallowing patterns, heredity, environment, mouth functions, body movements, body posture, psyche, diet, speech, diseases and previous accidents.

Even a traumatic birth or an awkward positioning of the unborn child in the womb can facilitate misalignment of the jaws. Similarly, an early tooth loss of a baby tooth, as a result of decay, could lead to the permanent tooth when it grows, not finding its correct placement and thus resulting in jaw misalignment. 

All these facts are considered prior to any treatment, because if you look at teeth from a holistic orthodontic point of view, it doesn’t make sense to move the teeth about if the jaws are not in harmony with each other or the rest of the body. 

And the treatment doesn’t start with ripping healthy teeth out.

Tooth misalignments were almost unknown two hundred years ago and only appeared when the so called modern western diet came into being, which incorporated sugar and white flour.

Dr Western Price, a famous dentist and researcher in his days published extensively about his findings in the 1930’s. 

What he found was that the main reason for tooth and jaw misalignment were due to the over consumption of too much sugar and white flour. This in turn creates acidity in the muscle which leads the chewing muscles in the jaw to spasm holding the bone in such a tight grip and thus preventing the jaw to develop naturally.

Western Price could find exactly this in the indigenous tribes he researched. As soon as they were in contact with the modern diet those children developed tooth and jaw misalignments as well as tooth decay. As soon as they returned to their original diet however, the next generation of children was again free from tooth and jaw misalignment and tooth decay. 

Very interesting in this regard is the research from Stanislaus Pazurek, he found that during war time, tooth decay is massively reduced. Sugar and processed foods are scarce in war time. 

If teeth do not come together in harmony the consequences can be very dramatic. Breathing can be influenced as well as sleeping at night. 

Also perceived unrelated symptoms like bed wetting, hyperactivity, ear and eye problems, headaches, leg length discrepancies, hip problems can be affected. 

The entire oral crevice with teeth, jaw, palat, teeth and tongue is of tremendous importance to our wellbeing. This tight connection between mouth and entire body is already formed in the womb. 

Many different developments are affected by that including communication, speech, hand/mouth co-ordination, the psychological processing of impressions and all ground functions of life like breathing, defence, digestion, posture, movement and metabolism. 

Professor Balters, the father of holistic orthodontics in Germany researched extensively on that topic in the 1950’s. 

A jaw misalignment according to Balters, is not an isolated disease but a trigger, middle or end part in a chain of malfunctions within the entire body. 

Balters is also known to have said “there is no case of tooth anomaly whose roots are not based in the emotional area”.

In conventional orthodontics one tries to by mechanical means and tooth extractions, to create space in a supposedly too small jaw and this way create a false harmony. 

This results in many patients who have had their teeth extracted as children, now in their adult life complaining about pain and limitations in their jaw joints, shoulder and spine area as well as arms and legs and feet. 

According to Dr Hubertus von Treuenfels who practices holistic functional concepts for more than 30 years, size and form of our jaws are never random. In his view every tooth knows not only where but also how it has to do its function in the jaw. 

Each tooth serves many purposes and therefore plays an important role in the entire system. 

Besides its role as chewing and cutting tools, it participates through its supportive and retaining function in all movements of your mouth including sucking, chewing, swallowing, breathing and speaking and with every gesture.

Extracting teeth with a justification to create space as it is done in conventional orthodontics, is nothing else than adding another disturbance and disharmony to which the body then has to adapt. 

Furthermore, the extraction of teeth leads to a collapse of the dental arches. Most of the time the first small molar tooth, the so-called premolars, are extracted. In consequence although the teeth allegedly look all straight, they do not work in harmony with the jaw joints and their surrounding muscles.

Consequently problems with the jaw joints can develop and through deficient development of the dental arches, lead to retained wisdom teeth, wisdom teeth which get stuck in the bone or impacted, cannot make it into their natural position because they lack the space. 

A further consequence of the deficient development of the dental arches is insufficient space for the sinuses and their ability to drain. This could lead to an increased incident of sinus infections as well as increased severity in throat and ear infections. This in return increases the likelihood of allergies. 

Even in adulthood, one can achieve dramatic improvements of sinuses and allergic reactions by widening the dental arches. This is especially true when the treatment is combined with osteopathic treatment. 

Every single tooth has its own function and works as part of a team with all the other teeth, through their alignment with the upper and lower jaw, determine how well the jaw joints operate which in turn directly affects the functionality of the entire skeletal system.

In other words, just as a flat foot can have an effect on the skeletal system and influence the bite, the bite in return can influence the skeletal system. 

Teeth and the TMJ or temporo-mandibular joint are not only participating in posture and movement, they also let us feel posture and movement. 

In the area of the tooth root, there are receptor cells which conduct with each tooth contact, information to the nervous system therefore enabling in conjunction with muscles, ligaments and joints, a targeted and controlled movement of the jaw.

In holistic orthodontics it is especially this feel and guiding part of teeth, muscles and TMJ joints that plays an important role because it guides all our mouth movements and all our basic functioning that happens through the mouth, which includes breathing, digestion and speaking. 

When should the orthodontic treatment start?

On average one can say that treatment should start as early as possible to utilise fully the growth of teeth and dental arches and to stop any kind of habits such as thumb sucking or lip biting. 

The orthodontic problems that children have with their permanent teeth are often the same as they had with their baby teeth only that the baby teeth were smaller and therefore the interference is less visible.

As a rule of thumb for starting the treatment we can suggest the following. 

From first to eighth year, habits like the thumb sucking, lip biting, mouth breathing, snoring and allergic appearances can be treated. 

From seventh to twelfth years of age the following can be treated: overbite, which is when the upper teeth are catching too far over the lower teeth, cross-bite: which is when single or multiple lower teeth are located further out than the upper teeth, or overcrowding of teeth. 

If the treatment can only start after the twelfth year of age which means when all permanent teeth are already present, first the habits should be treated then the overbite, cross-bite and overcrowding. 

If there is only one thing that sticks with you from today, then it should be the following: 

no tooth extraction to gain space if ever possible!!

Tooth extraction just brings more problems. 

What does a holistic orthodontic treatment look like?

The ground principle for holistic treatment consists of supporting both upper and lower jaw to achieve their correct size and therefore providing sufficient space so that each tooth can be at its natural location. 

Alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment where a fixed brace is used and only the orthodontist is in charge of the treatment, a holistic orthodontist treatment is a partnership between the patient, with children also their parents, the orthodontist and accompanying therapists so that each party has their own duties to support the treatment. 

The child has to wear the appliance during the recommended time and duration, the parents have to motivate the child to ensure this is really done, the orthodontist checks the progress of the treatment and gives adjustments and the co-therapist can for example do lymph drainage, cranial sacral therapy or similar to support the treatment so that all parties co-operate to maximise the success of the treatment.

What devices that can assist with orthodontic treatment?

A fascinating device that comes in different sizes and can be used for babies, children, teenagers and adults alike is the LIP TRAINER.

It is not an orthodontic device but it is extremely useful to train all your fascial muscles. It is a myo-functional device which has the ability to strengthen the lip muscles. Already after two weeks you notice the difference.

The lip trainer is a good appliance to get back into nose breathing away from mouth breathing, therefore reducing snoring, increases cerebral blood flow, activates facial expression muscles, co-ordinates movement of tongue and throat and balances the sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems. 

The exercise is done four times a day and only takes three minutes each session. The most important times to do it are in the evening and just before going to bed

One of the most important devices in holistic orthodontics is the Bionator which is an appliance made of plastic with a lip-cheek-bow. 

It lies loose in the mouth and without any force or pressure, it triggers an automatic remodelling of the dental arches and the Bionator can do much more. 

Bionator therapy encompasses the whole person in its entirety. It acts as a facilitator between the bite and spine by mobilising and guiding the forming forces in a very gentle way. 

Through the Bionator therapy teeth aren’t forced into a certain position by external forces but through targeted impulses which allow the teeth to move into their natural positions. 

This way the lower jaw almost automatically comes into its correct position as well does the tongue hence the function of the tongue will be normalised. 

A proper tongue function however enables growth of the maxilla therefore the single tooth will naturally find its correct placement. 

This all might sound hard to believe but it really works! 

This is the way I have started all orthodontic treatments with my young patients as early as seven years of age.

The new jaw position meaning how upper and lower teeth bite together, results in a general relaxation of the surrounding soft tissues and increased circulation and as a very important part, resulting in moving from mouth breathing to breathing through the nose. 

Should the effect of the Bionator not be sufficient, then another device which is called Crozat can be used. A Crozat apparatus supports the development of the oral cavity as well as single tooth movements. 

Bionator and Crozat can be used for children as well as by adults.

There are many more appliances out there used by functional Orthodontocs.

How long does a holistic orthodontic treatment take?

On average and depending on severity it takes on average 3-4 years. Some patients respond faster than others therefore sometimes it only takes 2 years but it can take longer.

Very importantly for orthodontic treatment are supporting therapeutic treatments such as:

  • Homeopathy
  • Lymph drainage
  • Magnetic field therapy
  • Manual therapy
  • Myo-functional therapy
  • Neurofunctional reorganisation therapy after Padovan 
  • Osteopathy

The term of “Orthopaedia” originates from the Greeks and comprises from the word “orthos” meaning upright and “paediuein” which stands for educate and this is actually what orthodontics is doing ie “it educates you to become upright”

To summarise therefore holistic orthodontics is more than just moving teeth, eliminating overcrowding or getting rid of a retrusive occlusion but through the mouth the entire skeletal system is harmonised, and a natural state of balance achieved.

With the further help of ancillary therapies, the patient feels supported and with the improvement in posture becomes more confident in their ability to adapt to their environment and the challenges that life presents. 

Obviously, there are patients where the holistic treatment has limitations and where traditional orthodontic treatment with fixed braces has to be applied.

This can be the case when the self-healing power of the patient is not sufficient anymore or if teeth have to be turned or if non fixed appliances cannot be worn or if the patient doesn’t want to take responsibility and wants their problems solved externally.

Holistic also means that the patient has to play his or her part during treatment and must have the willingness to change. If they are prepared to do so, then a permanent treatment success without force or tooth extraction is possible. 

This way the patient can show their teeth to the world.

And one very important part to wrap this topic up.

Breastfeeding is where the orthodontic process begins. Whilst breast feeding the jaw develops through sucking milk out of the nipple. This way proper breathing is also encouraged. Therefore, breastfeeding for about six months should be the aim of every mum to give their child a head-start into the world most likely avoiding tooth extraction. 

Of course, a healthy diet which means no sugar, no dairy and no grains straight after breastfeeding will provide a good fundament for a healthy child.

Ok, we’ve come to the end of Elmar’s tooth Talk – The missing link to total health.

Thanks for watching. I hope to see you again next week. 

Bye for now.

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