Early interceptive orthodontic treatment usually starts before the eruption of the permanent teeth or when the child has very few permanent teeth present. The goal at our office is to guide the growth of the upper and/or lower jaw to make adequate space for the eruption of all the permanent teeth. We feel that children should be evaluated by the age of six to see if there is a bone problem (orthopedic) or a tooth problem (orthodontic).
Narrow Smile Broad Smile
If the patient has a problem such as the upper jaw being too narrow, or an underdeveloped lower jaw, this will require a special appliance called a functional jaw orthopedic appliance to correct the problem. Minor tooth crowding can also be corrected early if it appears as though it may compromise the eruption of other permanent teeth.
It is always less expensive to correct a problem when the patient is younger rather than wait for the problem to become more serious in the future.
Other benefits of early treatment:
Pre-Treatment Cross Bite Corrected
Functional habits include thumb sucking, mouth breathing or a tongue thrust habit. These can contribute to the unfavorable growth of the jaws. Oral habits can commonly cause the upper front teeth to stick out and can contribute to speech problems. The best way to intercept a habit is to first make certain that the child has a proper size airway and can breathe through the nose. In cases where there are serious allergies, swollen adenoids or tonsils, a referral to an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist must be done. After airway considerations are addressed, an upper fixed habit-breaking appliance could be made to stop the oral habit. Most parents prefer the fixed appliances, which cannot be removed by the child. A tiny patient friendly crib at the front of the appliance helps to remind the patient not to place their tongue, finger of thumb in this area of the mouth. Active treatment usually takes 4 to 5 months. Then if an arch development appliance was used, the crib could be removed, and the child wears the appliance as a retainer for another 6 months to prevent a relapse.
Orthodontics is usually our Second Phase of treatment, following the use of functional appliances. The braces would now be placed to move the teeth into alignment to support the development of the bone achieved in the first phase of treatment. The second phase of treatment is initiated when most of the permanent teeth have erupted.
Braces are the small, square metal attachments (called brackets) that are bonded with special orthodontic adhesive to the teeth. There is a small slot in the in the middle of the bracket into which the orthodontic wire fits. In order to hold the wire in place, small tiny elastics are wrapped around the outside of the braces. It is the combination of the braces, the wire and the elastic that help the tooth move into is proper position. To help make the wearing of braces more fun, patients have a choice of at least 40 different colored elastics.
This phase of treatment usually lasts between 12-24 months depending on the amount of tooth movement necessary to align the teeth and to establish a proper bite. It is important to remember that treatment time is estimated. Dr. Smith has specific treatment goals in mind and will usually continue treatment until these goals have been achieved. Patient cooperation is the best way to keep on time with your treatment. Be sure to take care of your braces and to wear your rubber bands as instructed and we will both be able to achieve our desired result.
After phase II is completed, it is necessary to wear retainers to hold the final result. The great part about our retainers is that they are virtually invisible which helps guarantee patient acceptance and ensures they will be worn at the appropriate times.