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Holistic Orthodontics

Dr O’Rielly no longer does work of this nature, but he highly recommends it for children in their formative years.


Dr. O’Rielly’s practice focuses on early childhood development, ages 5 through 9.

The focus of Holistic Orthodontics is the same as that of the Hippocratic Oath: First do no harm. For this reason key features of Holistic Orthodontics are the use of non toxic materials and the avoidance of extraction as a routine approach.

Many parents have educated themselves as to less desirable aspects of traditional orthodontics like the use of nickel in stainless steel wires and bands, although current research is not conclusive as the corrosive effects of saliva on these materials.

As far as extractions, it is always preferable to minimize the removal of teeth when possible. The health of the entire mouth needs to be taken into account, as well as the final aesthetic outcome desired. Sometimes extraction may in fact be necessary for specific results.

Functional Appliance Therapy is a non-invasive approach to orthodontics to correct crowding and structural problems in the jaws, which can cause neurological, muscular, and physiological symptoms all over the body. The advantages to functional orthodontics are:

  • It is reversible and not as traumatic as traditional brackets and wires
  • It must be done at an early age in order to make fixed braces less necessary
  • Bio-friendly materials can be used
  • The need for extraction of teeth can be avoided

All these points are extremely important and I will discuss them one at a time:

  • Functional Appliances are Reversible and not as traumatic. Many appliances are removable and don’t require irreversible grinding, extractions or stripping of teeth. Dr O’s goal is use an appliance for 6 months to accomplish the necessary changes. Of course it can take longer, however, contrast this with traditional fixed brackets that can be in place for 2 years.
  • It is encouraged to do any orthodontic treatment at the earliest possible age. Dr O’s focus is to do the least amount of treatment to achieve the highest benefit to the patient. Functional appliance therapy allows him to do this as well as avoid fixed brackets in many cases.
  • Orthodontic Materials are now available that are bio-friendly. This is huge for my patients, who are health conscious. When it comes down to it, who isn’t health conscious when they have a choice? We can now do orthodontics without nickel and the normal chemicals found in acrylic resins.
  • By using functional appliances before all the permanent teeth are in, it is usually possible to avoid the need to extract bicuspids to make room for all the teeth. Extraction of teeth should be avoided if at all possible, because it causes further contracts of the jaws and cranial bones that hold the teeth.

An example of a functional appliance is the ALF Appliance.  The ALF uses light wires that produce less pressure on the teeth. These light forces are active 24/7 and are also more ‘springy.’ The ALF works with the body organically and allows the bones to move with the teeth rather than forcing the teeth through the bones. This makes it extremely dynamic. If you wish to read more about the ALF or how it compares with traditional orthodontics, please see the articles below.

Other articles of interest: