Functional Othodontics/Orthopedics is a philosophy. Actual treatment using this philosphy, involves more than giving a patient a particular appliance to wear. The goals of functional orthodontics & orthopedics include well developed arches, properly positioned mandible (lower jaw), and correct vertical dimension (think beautifully balanced smile vs. deep overbites and "buck teeth"). All of these orthodontic and orthopedic components affect the face!
Functional orthodontics aims to treat problems in a non-surgical and non-extraction method. Functional and skeletal problems such as oral habits, airway issues, and skeletal discrepancies are addressed at an early age (6-9 years). This is sometimes referred to as Phase 1 of treatment. Actual tooth alignment with braces (although in some cases can be done with other functional appliances) is considered a finishing technique or Phase 2. This can be completed once the permanent teeth are in (age 12-15).
An accurate diagnosis is essential. Timing of treatment is also important to maximize advantages of the growth and development phases.
Adults may also be treated with functional orthodontics/orthopedics. Of course the advantages of growth and development phases no longer exists but methods to correct skeletal discrepancies, airway obstructions, and poor alignment of teeth. It may take longer and require more diligent wear of retention appliances or even some appropriate restorative treatment to the dentition for maximum esthetic results.