Here you will find the
answers to some common questions about functional appliances and wearing
them. These are sometimes also called orthopaedic appliances.
What is a functional/orthopaedic
A functional appliance is a functional brace that is worn on the upper and
lower teeth at the same time in order to correct the way upper and lower
teeth fit over each other. For example a functional brace may be used to
correct very protruding upper or lower front teeth, improve the way molar
teeth bite together, or even improve your facial profile so that the jaws
look more aligned with each other when you look at the face in profile.
How does a functional appliance
Functional braces only work in growing children and adolescents. Research
is still being carried out to evaluate exactly how functional braces work.
It is thought that functional braces deliver their effects through a
combination of ways. They may promote or modify growth of the jaws, adapt
the soft tissues and muscles of the face to new positions, move whole
groups of teeth at the same time or change the angulation of teeth.
When should functional treatment
be carried out?
Depending on the condition of the bite, functional brace treatment starts
either at an early age when milk teeth are still present (age 7-10), or
around the time of the pubertal growth spurt (age 11-14) when all or
nearly all the milk teeth have been shed. Your orthodontist will assess
and diagnose the problems with your bite and determine whether you need
functional treatment, and when you should start.
Will it hurt?
- For the first 5-7 days
of having your functional brace, and for a day or two each time it is
adjusted, you may experience some discomfort in your mouth. The teeth
may get a little sore, and parts of the brace may rub on your gum, lips,
cheeks or tongue. You may also notice increased saliva flow, and an
effect on your speech. This is normal, and soon you’ll get used to
wearing your brace and your speech will go back to normal. To improve
your speech sooner, you can practise by reading aloud while wearing the
- Try and wear the brace
as much as possible during those first few days. If you leave your brace
out for a long time, you will have to get used to it all over again when
you start wearing it once more.
- If necessary, you may
wish to take mild painkillers such the ones you would normally take for
headaches. Please read the instructions on the packet regarding how much
you should take.
- We can supply you with
some orthodontic wax if you wish. If any part of the retainer is digging
into your lips or cheeks, tear off a small piece of wax, roll it into a
small pea-sized ball between your fingers, and gently mould this over
any troublesome part of the retainer. This acts as a cushion, keeping
your lip or cheek away from the retainer components.
- If you continue to have
discomfort beyond the first few days, contact the practice so that an
emergency appointment can be arranged as soon as possible to adjust your
functional brace. Don’t just wait for your next appointment as this
could prolong your treatment duration.
Do I have to wear my functional
brace all the time?
Yes, unless advised otherwise by your orthodontist. The key to successful
orthodontic treatment with functional braces is wearing them, not removing
them! Functional braces do not work in your pocket! Wear your functional
brace all day and all night wherever you are. There are only a few
exceptions to this rule. You may remove them for:
- eating main meals
- brushing your teeth
- playing contact sports
or very active physical games or PE (in which case you should wear a
- playing wind musical
- if you sing or speak in
performances as part of your school activities
Going on holiday is not an
exception to this rule! Only remove your brace for a short while for the
above exceptions, and when you do, always store the brace in a small rigid
container which we will provide to avoid damage to, or loss of your
How do I take care of my
- Do not leave your
functional brace lying around outside its container. Do not carry the
brace loose in your pockets or your bag. Do not wrap up your brace in
tissue paper or a napkin and then leave it lying around. To avoid damage
to, or loss of your brace, always store it in its container/box when it
is not being worn.
- To keep your functional
brace clean, brush it with your regular toothbrush and toothpaste
whenever you brush your own teeth. You may wish to purchase brace
cleaning tablets from a chemist as an extra measure.
- Always insert or remove
your brace components according to your orthodontist’s instructions. Do
not get into the habit of clicking the parts in and out. This can be
damaging to your teeth, to your brace, and very annoying to those around
Should I brush my teeth as
You should brush your teeth thoroughly preferably after each meal. You’re
your brace out for toothbrushing. Take a travel brush with you to school
or work so that you can brush after lunch. Use a fluoride mouthwash or
brush with a fluoride gel last thing at night after brushing your teeth.
How long will I have to wear my
Your orthodontist would have given you some indication of this. Treatment
with functional braces usually takes between 9-12 months. You need to
attend for regular appointments so that your brace is adjusted and your
tooth movements are checked.
Why haven’t you fitted fixed
Different braces have different functions. Your orthodontist has assessed
and analysed your orthodontic problem to come up with the treatment plan
that is customised to produce the best possible improvement for your bite.
This sometimes involves wearing functional braces which act to bring about
specific changes which fixed braces may not be very efficient at
achieving. Treatment with functional braces is usually (but not always)
followed (or occasionally preceded) by fixed brace treatment.
Do I still need to see my regular dentist?
Regardless of the type of orthodontic treatment you are having, you should
always continue to arrange six-monthly check-ups with your dentist.
What should I do if my brace is
damaged or lost?
Contact the practice as soon as possible for an emergency appointment
and/or advice. Do not wait for your next scheduled appointment as this may
slow your treatment, or may result in unwanted tooth movement. Very
occasionally we may be able to remake your brace in your absence; or
repair it if someone else brings in the damaged brace. A charge is made
for replacing very damaged or lost braces. If you repeatedly damage or
lose your brace, no progress will be made, and treatment may be stopped.