Holistic Orthodontics – Fix Mouth Breathing and Straighten Teeth Without Braces

holistic orthodontist expanders

Credits: Dr Ian Milne


The biggest reason to not get braces is there are gentler and more functional alternative ways to straighten teeth. Most people do not have enough room in their mouth for all their teeth to fit. Appliances called expanders use gentle tongue-like pressure to slowly increase the space in the mouth. With more space in the mouth, teeth will fit and be more aligned and straight. That is holistic orthodontics.

A healthy smile and life is about more than teeth. The tongue should fit easily into the mouth and palate. Airways need to be unobstructed and healthy. We should sleep well, have good head posture and not mouth breathe or snore. The goal of “holistic orthodontics” is a great smile, balanced jaw profile and a healthy airway and sleep.


How to Straighten Teeth With Holistic Orthodontics


So why do some people have crooked teeth, bad bites? Cross bites? Open bites and poor facial profile? Holistic orthodontics identifies the root cause of these developmental problems and answers to these questions. The recipe is to first get the jaws and mouth to be the correct size and shape with customized palatal expanders. This creates room so all the teeth can actually physically fit into the dental arches. And to second, get the teeth straight with a gentle modality such as Invisalign.

But there is much more to it. We evaluate and correct tongue function with myofunctional therapy. And we have a program for posture correction and mouth breathing.


Holistic Orthodontics Video by Dr. Adams


YouTube video


Palatal Expander Therapy


Dr Adams uses custom designed expanders he designs and the assistance of biological forces including tongue pressure, chewing forces and neutral bite positions to create more room in the mouth. There is no one-size fits all appliance. The best expander depends on the size and shape of the face and jaw profile and the specific challenges.  Dr. Adams will select and design the best expander for the situation.   Palatal expansion therapy involves:

  1. Wearing the removable expander at night time for 8-12 hours
  2. perform 3 easy tongue exercises 3x per day. It will take a total of 5 – 10 minutes
  3. Meet appointments to see Dr. Adams every 2-4 months
  4. Most treatments will take 6-12 months for kids and 18-24 months for adults


Dr. Adams’ Discusses Expander Options Video:


YouTube video



The Schwarz Appliance


schwarz expnder

Schwarz Appliance – Child Growth Appliance


The Schwarz expander is one of our favorite expanders in holistic orthodontics. It is capable of growing jaw bones wider, more forward and taller. Basically all the things an underdeveloped mouth needs. And by the way, when there is enough room, teeth are straight and the bite is balanced. Schwartz appliance is perfect for correcting crowded teeth, small high palates and growing jaws outward for improving facial profile. Correcting the profile by growing the jaw structures outward, moves the tongue posture position away from the airway and improves sleep.  The Schwarz appliance needs to be used between the ages of 5 and 14 while natural growth is taking place. Once growth is complete, an adult expansion appliance such as a DNA appliance or Homeoblock device will need to be used. The DNA and AGGA are growth appliances that will stimulate adult bone to start growing again. As well as promote adult jaws to grow in the desired direction. Adult problems are much more difficult to correct and usually are complicated by TMJ, sleep and bruxism problems.


ALF Orthodontic Appliance

ALF Expander Appliance


A light springy wire that applies a constant outward expanding force. The appliance promotes forward growth in a U-shape direction. That is, promotes the jaw or dental arch to grow forward in the broad shape of a U. That is the same shape as the tongue. The ALF appliance expands the maxilla and easily achieves a symmetric facial profile. The ALF is termed a “natural expander” because the goal is to use natural growth stimulating forces such as the tongue to aid in expansion. The texture of the ALF up against the back surfaces of the teeth stimulates the tongue to push on it. The tongue pressure actually activates much of the expansion. The ALF has also been widely used in adults for years. Dr. Adams has started using other newer appliances (most of the time) for Adults such as the DNA. because the ALF is not as good at 3D bone growth.


Healthy Start and Myobrace Expanders


healthy start provider


Healthy Start and Myobrace are orthodontic and orthopedic systems that help address tooth crowding, airway and sleep problems in children. The system stimulates the jaws to grow. And also improves tongue function and sleep. Problems such as sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing in kids can be cured or improved. Often times crooked teeth and bad bites can be fixed without braces. The Schwarz appliance is a better appliance because it has more control over the direction of growth in the jaws and it is capable of making a planned and specific change.


Twin Block Appliance


expander orthodontic


Dr. Adams may use the Twin Block appliance when the lower jaw needs to grow a lot more forward than the upper jaw. And in kids with a lower jaw that is set back and there is poor facial profile in the bottom part of the face. The same treatment can be achieved with a Schwarz appliance, but more difficult “repositioning” cases demand the Twin Block.


Adult Palatal Expanders-Holistic Orthodontics is not just for kids


Vivos DNA orthodontic appliance


An adult appliance needs to stimulate bone to start growing again. And grow jaw bone wider, taller and more forward. For adults, the focus is in treating problems such as sleep, TMJ pain and teeth clenching. The DNA appliance by Vivos is usually the appliance of choice for adults to achieve correction of teeth crowding, balanced smiles with optimal jaw spaces for better sleep and a cure for painful jaw conditions. The DNA appliance is a removable appliance that only needs to be worn at night and is easy for adult to tolerate. The AGGA appliance is a forward growth appliance for adults.


What Age should Kids get Braces and Expanders?


Braces and expanders should be done between the ages of 5 and 14. 80% of jaw and facial development occurs by the age of 12. Dr. Adams prefers to see kids between the ages of 5-6 to determine what they need. Some kids will need early palatal expansion and others may need nothing more than a tongue tie release.

After age 14, appliances and techniques that stimulate growth and development will be necessary. For example the Vivos DNA Appliance. Never pull teeth for braces and straight teeth. Several anterior growth and palatal expansion appliances for young children exist such as the ALF appliance and Myobrace.


What Causes Crowed Teeth?


tongue tie crowded teeth


Long story short – a tied tongue, genetics and a soft diet. A tied tongue prevents the tongue from having the proper range of motion. The tongue puts pressure on the jaws and stimulates them to grow to be the proper shape. A soft diet does not work the jaw muscles enough. Chewing hard foods helps promote jaw bone growth.


Crooked teeth is a sign that expansion is necessary


Crooked teeth are a sign of underlying problems such as facial under-development, small upper airway and poor tongue function. Tooth crowding is the writing on the wall that things are not growing or have not grown in the right direction. Paying attention to these warning signs can steer you away from future health problems.

Natural orthodontic services use the aid of biological forces such as the tongue, chewing forces and gentle functional appliances such the


ALF Vs Schwarz Appliances for Kids


orthodontic expanders


Notice the healthy increase in facial diameter and optimal tooth positions created. The facial balance has been optimized. The eyes, nose, ears and teeth are now parallel and level. The child used to have the entire right side of his face higher than the left. The increase in space will result in proper tongue position, more room for mouth and nasal breathing, better space for sinus drainage and performance. The health benefits and facial aesthetics for this child are life changing.


ALF Orthodontics for Severe Teeth Crowding


An Example of a gentle functional appliance is an ALF appliance. Advanced light wire is an example of an expander. The natural expander can also be used to gently increase the size of the mouth and balance the shape of the jaws. It is invaluable in correcting tooth crowding and encouraging jaw growth so all the teeth and tongue can fit into proper places and spaces. The ALF can sometimes be an alternative to braces when tooth crowding is the issue. The ALF can help avoid the need to extract teeth to create more space for all the teeth to fit.


How Does the ALF fix Teeth that are Crowded?


The use of the ALF appliance and other functional appliances improves jaw and facial balance, bite balance and proper space for nasal / mouth breathing, tongue position. Proper “balance” and “space” is what creates stability, health and prevents future TMJ, posture and sleep problems. Use of traditional orthodontic wires may not correct facial asymmetries seen above and may not create enough space for teeth and healthy tongue position. If care is not taken with Wires, the teeth can be held back or pulled back too far in the mouth and into the airway. (We still promote the use of orthodontic wires, but only after proper balance and space has been created. In fact many of our cases are still done at least in part with orthodontic wires).

Traditional orthodontics has focused on moving teeth and getting them straight with metal wires, bands, and brackets. During child development, jaws and facial bones can under develop, causing a small mouth and too little room in the jaws for all the teeth to fit. Orthodontic wires if used improperly can restrict growth in a child.


How to start Holistic Orthodontics in Kids:


  1. identify factors affecting tooth crowding and under-development. Most often we will find a tongue tie. A tongue tie restricts the range of motion of the tongue and causes a thinning of the tongue profile on extension. The tongue is the primary factor promoting jaw development outward and width wise. The tongue literally applies pressure to growing jaws in a child to promote the growth. When the range of motion of the tongue is restricted the tongue cannot apply enough pressure for optimal development. That is when we see teeth crowding, small jaws, poor nasal breathing and possibly even poor sleep and snoring.
  2. Untie the tongue. An easy procedure with no bleeding, lasts 30 seconds with a laser
  3. Tongue Exercises to increase the range of motion of the tongue.
  4. Expansion with an ALF or DNA Appliance


Avoid Pulling or Extracting Teeth for Braces and Orthodontics:


Teeth are often extracted to create more space as a part of orthodontic treatment. Extracting teeth and pulling teeth back with wires is harmful. Removing teeth for braces, reduces the size of the mouth, nasal passageways, sinuses and the face in general. A small mouth can crowd the tongue and reduce the size of the airway. Airway problems can lead to TMJ problems, sleep apnea, chronic sinus issues, poor posture, chronic skeletal pain, metabolic problems and teeth clenching during sleep.

Natural orthodontia uses treatments to create more room in the mouth for all the teeth to fit more naturally. Treatment is centered around optimal oral-facial development and function. The use of an ALF appliance and tongue and chewing exercises is a common treatment course for crowded teeth.

Is there anything more important than breathing, proper posture, balance and overall health?


Identifying factors involved in Teeth Crowding and Facial Under Development:


  1. Diet of soft foods such as Macaroni and Cheese, and Applesauce vs Celery and Chewy Meats and Nuts.
  2. Tongue Tied improperly limiting range of motion of the Tongue
  3. Airway Problems

Natural and normal oral-facial development helps promote healthy attractive smiles, healthy jaws, large airways, healthy posture and whole-body health. After all, promoting whole-body health through proper dental care is what holistic dentistry is all about.


Adult cases are more difficult because they often involve TMJ pain and Airway Problems


The DNA appliance can be used to re-develop adult jaws and facial bones to optimize and balance the upper and lower jaws. The DNA Appliance is very effective in treating TMJ problems due to its unique ability to create new growth and balance adult jaws. The DNA Appliance can create proper Space, Bite Balance and Facial Symmetry for the Adult. How to stop clenching teeth. And what are the different kinds of tooth wear and how does it happen?


adult vivos orthodontic appliance


More growth and development means more space for teeth to fit, be straight and balanced. The goal of holistic orthodontics is to create beautiful and balanced smiles as well as a healthier life and optimal breathing patterns during sleep. Optimal space in the mouth for tongue function and unobstructed breathing and airway is important. Critical to proper sleep and prevention of sleep apnea and teeth clenching during sleep. When proper orthodontic treatment is not completed properly the consequence is TMJ, sleep apnea and UARS. UARS stands for upper airway resistance syndrome. We love straight teeth, but cosmetics is not our only goal.

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