William Balter’s Bionator that was developed in the 1950s, was first introduced in 1964. It is actually nothing more than a smaller version of an Activator, i.e. a removable brace that encompasses both the upper and lower jaw (double brace) and is intended to ‘jump the bite’. It has exactly the same effect as the Activator but is a much less efficient appliance. It resembles the Activator so much that it cannot really be described as a completely separate appliance. The Bionator is completely anchored to the teeth, so that it has a particularly strong effect of the teeth in as much as it tilts them through the bone. For this reason we can expect only minimal skeletal effect or impact on actual growth from this appliance. Because of its name (‘Bionator’ can best be translated as ‘life reviver’), many believe that it is capable of producing all sorts of miracle results for which, however, no proof has ever been produced in any clinical studies.

An original Bionator from the golden era of ‚Functioning Orthodontics‘. Notice the audacious lugs to which Balters ascribed all kinds of magical effects.

Dental Braces and Alternative Medicine

As an author, Balters focused on the ageing process and mysticism and provided impressive, ‘holistic’ theories for his braces for which, however, there was no real scientific proof. Balter’s hypotheses about the effectiveness of the Bionator as a
“current and vibration modifier”, etc belong to the realm of myths. Balters seriously claimed that he could ‘re-create’ his younger patients and actually give them their life back. He believed that, thanks to his ‘discoveries’ – which, viewed objectively, were rather marginal – orthodontics was not only the most important branch of dentistry but was the most important branch of medicine in general. It is shocking that so many orthodontists have blindly accepted this rubbish about the simple dental brace. It is these very legends and mythology surrounding the Bionator that explain its popularity amongst ‘alternative’, mostly academic circles. But it is the younger patients who have to pay for their parent’s fondness for ill-founded orthodontic treatment procedures by suffering excessively long treatment periods, adverse social effects and a 30%-50% failure rate.

No Braces for Children Today

There is no longer any sensible indication today to justify the use of a Bionator in orthodontics, because there are other effective and reliable dental braces available for every treatment procedure. But because working with the Bionator requires neither in-depth knowledge nor any particular technical skill, it enjoys unfettered popularity amongst German orthodontists. The latest advice for patients and parents is: stay away from this brace!