The Emerging Science of Facial Growth Dentistry

We treat the underlying problem that causes most TMJ dysfunction and obstructive sleep apnea

Facial Growth


Many debilitating conditions such as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ/TMD), Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Forward Head Posture (FHP) must have a root cause. These conditions seldomly occur in isolation. Research has found that about 80% of those with TMD also have OSA and Forward Head Posture (FHP). Emerging dental science shows the common denominator to be underdeveloped jaws. Simply stated, lack of ideal jaw and airway development lead to insufficient room for the teeth and tongue causing, facial muscle strain, crooked teeth, FHP, TMD, and sleep breathing disorders. A key to optimal health is an ideally developed and positioned upper and lower jaw.

Utilizing the latest advancements in dentistry to aid in accurate diagnosis, Dr. van Zyl can determine the degree of underdevelopment and plan for its correction. Since less than 20% of the population achieve ideal jaw and midface development, Facial Growth treatment should precede any major dental procedures to ensure optimal results. Optimizing the jaws to their genetically predetermined size and position should logically precede orthodontics, TMJ, full mouth rehabilitation or sleep apnea treatment. Following diagnosis, the treatment for the child up to 12 years old entails a removable facial growth appliance (AGGA) and for the adult a fixed appliance (FAGGA) with flat bite pads on all the lower molars. These appliances stimulate growth of the Nasomaxillary complex which includes the upper jaw and the entire midface in the child, whereas the fixed appliance guides the remodeling of the upper jaw and several other facial bones. This Guided Facial Growth or Remodeling results in a stable structural dental and skeletal foundation ensuring a lifelong absence of many debilitating conditions such as chronic tension headaches, TMD, FHP and several forms of sleep breathing disorders.

Actual Patient – Cosmetic Dentistry

Actual Patient – Cosmetic Dentistry

Crowded or crooked teeth are signs of underdeveloped jaws. In the past surgery was the only option for correction, but now room can be created for straight teeth by growing or remodeling the upper and lower jaws. If you or a family member has received advice to remove teeth before or during orthodontics, it is well worth your time to get a Facial Growth consultation to learn more about all your options. Addressing underdeveloped jaws prior to orthodontics eliminates future problems with TMJ dysfunction, FHP and sleep breathing disorders often worsened by tooth extractions. Facial Growth diagnosis and treatment is available for both children and adults.

An underdeveloped or compromised airway results from the tongue being positioned too far back in the throat. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the result, because as the muscles supporting and positioning the lower jaw relax at night the tongue attached to it falls back and prevents oxygen from reaching the lungs. OSA leads to restless and interrupted sleep as well as heart problems. Stimulating midface development through Facial Growth treatments results in increasing the size and volume of the upper airway. This treatment is effective for adults and children. In fact, guiding the direction of facial growth in children, with Facial Growth treatments, often eliminates future issues with OSA, TMD and FHP.

Underdeveloped jaws are a major contributing factor in TMJ dysfunction. Optimizing the genetic potential with Facial Growth treatments allows the upper and lower jaws to remodel resulting in a well-proportioned face and jaw alignment. Misalignment of the jaw joints often leads to chronic pain experienced not only in the joint area itself, but also in the temples, the head, neck and back. The growth and positioning of the of the upper jaw determine the position of lower jaw and the tongue attached to it. Therefore, when the upper jaw’s position is less than ideal, so is the position of lower jaw and the tongue. In turn, their positions play a major role in determining the size and stability of the airway. Repositioning only the teeth with orthodontics in these patients never corrects the position of the jaw joints, usually resulting in the development or aggravation of TMJ dysfunction.

If you snore, have obstructive sleep apnea, experience symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, have bad posture or have crowded teeth, please take the time to explore Facial Growth treatment

Optimized Facial Growth can change the quality or your life as an adult and prevent future issues with TMD, obstructive sleep apnea, and bad posture when corrected as a child. An Optimized Facial Growth analysis is always recommended prior to orthodontics, ensuring ideal jaw development is occurring and the presence of a good airway is confirmed. Any recommendation for extractions prior to orthodontic treatment should spur you on to investigate Optimized Facial Growth treatment, because crooked teeth are indicators of less than ideal jaw development.

Optimized Facial Growth treatment provides not only a beautiful smile but also have many other benefits such as a significant reduction in migraine-like headaches and improved facial aesthetic. Some patients have such noticeable changes that it appears they had a non-surgical facelift. Learn more about the aesthetic enhancements that can accompany Optimized Facial Growth treatment in a consultation with Dr. van Zyl.