An attractive smile can greatly enhance a person's self esteem and confidence. It's what people see first and remember most. A dazzling smile is also a sign of a healthy smile. Proper alignment of teeth can reduce tooth decay and susceptibility to gum disease by making teeth easier to clean.
The American Association of Orthodontists agree, it is best for children to be evaluated by age 7 to advise if orthodontic treatment is required and when would be the best time for that patient to begin treatment.
At age 7, the first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in. Therefore, cross bites, crowding, and other problems can be diagnosed.
When treatment begins early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw including the upper and lower dental arches which helps to:
- avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions
- reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
- correct thumb-sucking
- eliminate abnormal swallowing
- eliminate speech problems
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a very specialized process that encompasses tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The major advantage of a two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your life.
What if I put off treatment? The disadvantages of waiting for complete eruption of permanent teeth and having only one phase of treatment for someone with a jaw discrepancy are facing the possibility of a compromised result that may not be stable or needing surgery to correct the jaw discrepancy as an adult.
Because they are growing rapidly, children can benefit enormously from an early phase of orthodontic treatment. We utilize appliances that direct the growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws establishing a good foundation and providing adequate room for eruption of all permanent teeth. This early interceptive treatment may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws. Waiting until all permanent teeth erupt could result in a jaw discrepancy too severe to correct with braces alone.
After the early phase is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed. During this time, the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. A successful first phase will have created room for teeth to find an eruption path. At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Usually a retainer is worn nightly to keep the changes achieved in the first phase. Periodic observation appointments are necessary for Dr. Paciorek to monitor growth and development and to determine the best time to start the second phase of treatment.
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. The second phase is typically initiated when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on for an average of 22 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you retain your beautiful smile.
Sometimes appliances other than braces may be needed to successfully complete your orthodontic treatment plan. Patients must work together with the orthodontist to help achieve the best result in a timely manner.
Elastics (rubber bands)
Wearing elastics (or rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed and remember that the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they're worn as prescribed.
Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an "overbite," with the upper jaw forward of the lower jaw, or an "underbite" with the lower jaw forward of the upper jaw. Headgear gently "pulls" on your teeth to restrict further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.
The Herbst appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.
The palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.
Positioners complete the final tooth movements in your orthodontic treatment. With your full cooperation, you should only need to wear the positioner appliance for 4-8 weeks.
Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.
Separators or Spacers
Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods, toothpicks, or floss.
The palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. The animation below will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.
In a well-lit area tip the patient's head back.
Place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.
Pushing the key toward the back of the mouth, you will notice the fender will rotate and the new hole will appear. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.
By pushing back and down toward the tongue, remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key should now be visible.View palatal expander animation »