Early Interceptive and General Orthodontics
Space maintainers, palate expanders, Invisalign
Early interceptive treatment, commonly known as early treatment or phase one, allows our pediatric dentist to influence development of the jaw and tooth alignment while children are still growing. By correcting jaw development early on, we can minimize length and complication of comprehensive orthodontic treatment down the road otherwise known as phase two. Early interceptive orthodontic treatment can be done in the form of space maintainers and/or palate expanders. The procedures for these general orthodontics are very simple and are typically shorter than traditional comprehensive orthodontic treatment, such as braces.
A child may need a space maintainer in case of early/premature tooth loss or extraction of a primary/baby tooth due to extensive decay. Space maintainers are necessary in these instances to allow open space for the permanent tooth to erupt and grow. Our pediatric dentists maintain this space through the use of orthodontics. If this space is not maintained, the child’s teeth may shift and he or she may be in need of more extensive orthodontic treatment in the future. A space maintainer is a custom-made appliance that is either removable or fixed into place. Not every child who loses a tooth prematurely will need a space maintainer, but the dentist will discuss whether it is recommended for your child.
Palate expanders are typically placed on the upper arch to target growth the palatal suture located at the roof of the mouth. Early interceptive orthodontics are important, as this type of appliance is only advantageous when children are young enough that this suture can be easily manipulated and expanded. This expansion will create more space in the mouth and widen the upper arch of teeth, allowing for the correction of conditions such as crossbite and over-crowding. In some cases, palate expanders can even make enough space in the mouth to free an impacted tooth and allow for it to erupt. Generally, palate expanders are worn for 3-6 months.
Braces, but make them invisible! Invisalign allows for the alignment of your teeth without the common inconveniences of metal braces. Invisalign can be used to help with crowded teeth, closing undesired gaps in the teeth, and achieving generally straighter teeth among other things. Because Invisalign is a removable appliance, it is generally not used to treat more severe orthodontic conditions. If you are looking to improve your smile with Invisalign, we would be happy to discuss options with you!
Commonly Asked Questions about Orthodontics for Kids
How Long Does It Take to Get a Space Maintainer?
Because space maintainers are custom-made to fit your mouth by a dental laboratory technician, it takes two separate appointments to complete the delivery of a space maintainer. In the first appointment, we will take an impression of the teeth and send it to the lab to make the appliance. 2-3 weeks later in the second appointment, we will assess the proper fit of the space maintainer in the mouth and then cement it with a fluoride releasing cement.
How do Palate Expanders Work?
The palate expander mechanism operates via a screw in its center. The retainer has two halves that are connected by a screw that is turned slowly by the patient at a constant interval as advised by the dentist. Each turn of the screw slightly separates the two halves and over time will expand the width of the palate.