about ortho

About Ortho

1)  Why should my child have a check-up with an orthodontic specialist?

By the age of 7, your child will likely be in a stage of dental development known as "mixed dentition." This means that even though there are still primary (baby) teeth in your child's mouth, enough permanent (adult) teeth have come in for the orthodontist to properly identify current problems, anticipate future problems, and alleviate any concerns if everything seems normal. Many children will not require orthodontic treatment at this age, but the importance of intervening and taking specific steps to correct certain orthodontic issues at this age cannot be overstated. Crossbites, crowding, and injury-prone dental protrusions are just a few examples of orthodontic issues that can be evaluated at age 7. Finger sucking and other oral habits along with any discrepancies in jaw growth can also be assessed at this time.

Some signs or habits that indicate the need for an early orthodontic examination include:

  • early or late loss of baby teeth
  • difficulty in chewing or biting
  • mouth breathing
  • thumb sucking
  • finger sucking
  • crowding, misplaced or blocked out teeth
  • jaws that shift or make sounds
  • biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
  • teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
  • jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face

A check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7 enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate any problems, advise if treatment will be necessary, and determine the best time for your child to be treated.


2)  What are the benefits of early treatment?

For those patients who have clear indications for early orthodontic intervention, early treatment presents an opportunity to:

  • guide the growth of the jaw
  • regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches (the arch-shaped jaw bone that supports the teeth)
  • guide incoming permanent teeth into desirable positions
  • lower the risk of trauma (accidents) to protruded upper incisors (front teeth)
  • correct harmful oral habits such as thumb or finger-sucking
  • reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems
  • improve personal appearance and self-esteem
  • potentially simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics
  • reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not)
  • preserve or gain space for permanent teeth that are coming in

 3)  What is a space maintainer?

Baby molar teeth, also known as primary molar teeth, hold needed space for permanent teeth that will come in later. When a baby molar tooth is lost, an orthodontic device with a fixed wire is usually put between teeth to hold the space for the permanent tooth, which will come in later.


4)  Why do baby teeth sometimes need to be pulled?

Pulling baby teeth may be necessary to allow severely crowded permanent teeth to come in at a normal time in a reasonably normal location. If the teeth are severely crowded, it may be clear that some unerupted permanent teeth (usually the canine teeth) will either remain impacted (teeth that should have come in, but have not), or come in to a highly undesirable position. To allow severely crowded teeth to move on their own into much more desirable positions, sequential removal of baby teeth and permanent teeth (usually first premolars) can dramatically improve a severe crowding problem. This sequential extraction of teeth, called serial extraction, is typically followed by comprehensive orthodontic treatment after tooth eruption has improved as much as it can on its own.

After all the permanent teeth have come in, the pulling of permanent teeth may be necessary to correct crowding or to make space for necessary tooth movement to correct a bite problem. Proper extraction of teeth during orthodontic treatment should leave the patient with both excellent function and a pleasing look.


5)  How can my child's growth affect orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment and a child's growth can complement each other. A common orthodontic problem to treat is protrusion of the upper front teeth ahead of the lower front teeth. Quite often this problem is due to the lower jaw being shorter than the upper jaw. While the upper and lower jaws are still growing, orthodontic appliances can be used to help the growth of the lower jaw catch up to the growth of the upper jaw. Abnormal swallowing may be eliminated. A severe jaw length discrepancy, which can be treated quite well in a growing child, might very well require corrective surgery if left untreated until a period of slow or no jaw growth. Children who may have problems with the width or length of their jaws should be evaluated for treatment no later than age 10 for girls and age 12 for boys. The AAO recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7 as growth-related problems may be identified at this time.


6)  What kinds of orthodontic appliances are typically used to correct jaw-growth problems?

Correcting jaw-growth problems is done through the process of dentofacial orthopedics. Some of the most common orthopedic appliances used by orthodontists today that help the length of the upper and lower jaws become more compatible include:

Headgear: This appliance applies pressure to your child's upper teeth and jaw to reduce the rate of upper jaw growth. It can also be used to improve the direction of upper jaw growth. Your child is able to remove this for school and other social activities; it is usually worn 12 to 14 hours per day.

Facemask: Similar to headgear, the facemask also applies pressure to the upper teeth and jaw and can improve the direction of upper jaw growth. However, instead of reducing the rate of growth, this appliance increases the rate of upper jaw growth. Your child is able to remove this for school and other social activites, and it is typically worn for 12 to 14 hours per day.

Herbst Appliance: The Herbst appliance is usually fixed to the upper and lower molar teeth, so it cannot be removed. By holding the lower jaw forward and influencing jaw growth and tooth positions, the Herbst appliance can help correct severe protrusion of your child's upper teeth.

Bionator: This removable appliance holds the lower jaw forward and guides eruption of the teeth into a more desirable bite while helping the upper and lower jaws to grow in proportion with each other. Compliance in wearing this appliance is essential for successful improvement.

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Spartanburg: 864-585-8709

319 North Pine Street, Suite 5, Spartanburg SC 29302

Roebuck: 864-641-6245

4385 South Church Street Ext., Roebuck SC 29376

Piedmont Orthodontic Associates provides quality orthodontics for children, teens, and adults in Spartanburg, SC and the surrounding areas. Dr. Ernest Gardner, Jr. specializes in orthodontics, offering Invisalign as well as traditional braces. Contact Piedmont Orthodontic Associates to schedule your complimentary orthodontic consultation.

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