Functional Matrix Issues and Parafunctional Habits

You’re probably thinking “What do the phrases ‘Functional Matrix Issues’ and ‘Parafunctional Habits’ mean?” and “What does this have to do with getting braces?” This may all sound complex, but to us it’s all about identifying an underlying reason for the patient’s orthodontic problem. To read more about these problems, click on the links below.

Funtional Matrix Problems

Have you seen your child breathing with his or her mouth open? Not everyone breathes properly. The way a person breathes can have a dramatic impact on his health, growth and overall development.

Normally, the teeth and bone lie in a position of balance between the cheeks, lips, and tongue. At rest, the tongue is positioned at the roof of the mouth, the teeth are touching or are slightly apart, and the lips are together without strain. Breath is taken in through the nose. As a child grows with proper oral posture, there is proper balance between the forces of the tongue and the cheeks, and the teeth tend to come into the mouth in relatively good positions.

When someone has an abnormal breathing pattern, the mouth remains open for air to pass into the lungs. Mouth breathing does not allow the nose to filter and treat the air properly. Often, the impurities that remain in the air place a strain on the body, resulting in physical symptoms.

Mouth breathing alters muscle function of the face and tongue which, in turn, affects growth of the teeth and facial structures. The tongue posture must remain low to allow for the air to pass into the lungs. As a result, the upper jaw develops a narrow shape and causes crowding of the teeth. When the upper jaw is narrowed, the patient may also exhibit a reduction in the forward growth of the lower jaw due to an improper fit. Mouth breathers tend to keep their jaws separated, relaxing the tension on the cheek muscles, allowing the posterior teeth to continue erupting. This eruption will cause an open bite in the front of the mouth. Mouth breathers may also show an increase in the length of the face, affecting physical appearance.