Start Your Child on the Path to a Healthy Smile
As your child develops, it’s important to pay attention to the structure of their teeth as they smile. DiFranco Orthodontics encourages you and your child to visit our pediatric orthodontist in Park Ridge to ensure a healthy smile for a lifetime. The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends children be evaluated at age seven, and we agree with their recommendations!
Early Orthodontic Treatments
Early orthodontic treatment, also known as Phase 1 treatment, is advantageous because a young child’s teeth have not finished erupting; this allows us to guide their eruption and address any problems at the earliest possible stage. Whether your child needs removable or fixed appliances, early orthodontic treatment can help in the following ways:
- Provide more room for crowded erupting teeth
- Preserve space for teeth that have not yet erupted
- Create facial symmetry by guiding jaw growth
- Reduce the possible need for tooth extraction
- Reduce the overall treatment time
When you bring your child to our practice, Dr. DiFranco will be able to determine whether early orthodontic treatment is needed and when it should begin. If Phase 1 treatment is needed, we will create a personalized treatment plan for optimal results.
Phase 2 Orthodontic Treatment
If your child completed Phase 1 treatment and has had their early braces and appliances removed, there will typically be a rest period to allow for the more permanent teeth to come in. At this time, they can experience the benefits of early treatment, with a more attractive smile, while beginning the early adolescent years, a time when children often feel awkward about their appearance. This allows the child to see the results of Phase 1 treatment and to be ready for Phase 2 if needed. When more permanent teeth are present, Phase 2 treatment begins. This generally consists of a full set of metal braces, clear braces, or Invisalign® in certain cases.
Early Dentofacial Orthopedics
While orthodontics involves changing the positions of the teeth, dentofacial orthopedics involves guiding the growth and development of the bones of the face, particularly the upper and lower jaws. These treatments work best when they’re done at a younger age before children reach puberty when there is more potential to change the shapes and sizes of bones. During puberty, the bones fuse, and growth stops, making changes in the shape of a bone much more difficult.
There are several appliances that orthodontists use which can influence a child’s facial growth and development. One of the most common is the palate expander, an appliance that is bonded to select upper teeth, and which places gradual pressure on the palate when activated. This pressure widens the palate by applying orthopedic forces on the suture located at the center of the palate. As the palate gradually widens, new bone grows to fill the space. The palatal expander is usually worn for six to nine months, with the exact amount of time depending on the child’s needs. Generally, when a palatal expander is used, braces will still be needed to straighten the teeth and close any spaces between teeth that formed as the palate widens.