There is no doubt that regrets in life are hard to take. But when that regret involves your child, it is significantly harder. Dr. Stephanie Crise, Top McKinney Orthodontics, has watched this scenario occur more than once in her career, and she remembers multiple instances. One specific instance involved a patient’s Mom in tears because the Mom was unaware of the time frame for her child to have Phase One, the skeletal phase of orthodontics, completed.
Dr. Crise recalls, “A mom brought her little girl to us, who was about nine years old at the time. We examined her and found that the child had a significant need for overbite correction. Mom was advised that early Phase I treatment was recommended to correct the problem.”
However, the family’s dentist convinced them such treatment was unnecessary until the child was older. Sure enough, the girl returned to our Smiles Hollywood Orthodontic office when she was around twelve years of age, expecting to start her journey with full braces (which is known as Phase Two treatment). The same jaw issue, which Dr. Crise advised her to correct three years prior, was still present. Still, the Top McKinney Orthodontics difference now was that the window of opportunity for Phase One orthodontic treatment (ages 7-11) had closed.
Why can’t braces alone correct any skeletal discrepancies? This is a great question! There are fourteen bones in your face that start to fuse around the age of twelve years old. Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics always emphasizes that children need to have an initial orthodontic evaluation done around age 7 to 8 years of age while the child’s face is still growing and able to be manipulated before the bones in the face are permanently fused. In the example above, the only way to correct the girl’s jaw now was to have jaw surgery. The Mom was so sad that she had missed her time window to correct her child’s skeletal problem with Phase One Top McKinney Orthodontics treatment.
Not too long ago, it was a common belief that orthodontic care was not necessary until a child had all of their permanent teeth (age 12-13). As a result of this, many patients have had to have some of their permanent teeth removed since their dental problem was not corrected at a younger age. This is why Phase One orthodontic treatment is so crucial. It is specifically designed to correct any skeletal issues by helping to move or direct the facial bone growth during the early growing years. Skeletal corrections also usually allow more room for all the permanent teeth coming in during the earlier years when the bones of the face are rapidly growing and changing. Skeletal changes during Phase One orthodontic treatment can be accomplished by using an expander, headgear, Herbst appliance, or a facemask. Phase One orthodontics can also help reduce the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth as well as help to hold space for unerupted teeth, and it can decrease the treatment time for the second phase of orthodontics treatment, which is the full braces phase. Early Phase One orthodontic treatment can prevent the need for tooth extractions or jaw surgery. This is why it is so crucial to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist between the ages of seven and eight, if possible. At Smiles Hollywood Top McKinney Orthodontics, this evaluation is completely FREE!
How do the appliances mentioned above help correct your child’s jaw? Let’s start with the expander. The expander is used to widen the upper jaw. Many children have narrow jaws, and their permanent teeth are really crowded already. A lot of the time, there are still several baby teeth that haven’t fallen out yet, and when they do fall out, the permanent teeth underneath are much larger and will have no room to come in properly. So, an expander is placed in the roof of the patient’s mouth, and it slowly, over time, will help widen the upper jaw. The Top McKinney Orthodontics patient gets used to this appliance in about a week, and then it feels like it becomes part of their mouth. There is a small hole in the expander, and the parent is given a special key that they use to make a small, gentle turn a couple of times a week. The expander slowly expands the upper palatal bones to enlarge the upper jaw. Then after the expansion is completed, the upper palatal bones fuse together over time, but now the patient has a larger upper jaw, allowing room for all the permanent teeth to come into the mouth.
The next skeletal appliance that is often used is the old tried and true headgear. This appliance is worn only at night, and it wraps around the back of the patient’s neck and then each side connects into the upper back molars of the patient. It gradually helps to treat an overbite or overjet by holding the upper jaw back, so that the lower jaw can grow and “catch up” to the upper jaw. Headgear is a removable appliance and takes good patient compliance to be effective because it needs to be worn every night. (Occasional breaks for a spend-the-night with a friend are okay).
The Herbst appliance does the same thing the headgear does, but it is worn completely inside the mouth and, therefore, stays in all the time. Since the patient can not remove the device, the patient gets adjusted to it pretty quickly. The advantage of the Herbst is that since it is fixed inside the mouth, it is working all the time, and therefore results are oftentimes better than using a Headgear.
A face mask is used to treat patients with an underbite. The face mask is worn only at night and it gradually pulls the upper jaw forward to allow the top jaw to catch up to the bottom jaw. This in turn helps to align the patient’s bite. The facemask is truly a skeletal appliance and will move the bones of the face easily if worn during the early childhood years.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated by an orthodontist between the ages of 7 to 8 years old. Many children may not require early treatment; However, monitoring them and having a professional opinion to verify whether they need early Phase One orthodontic treatment is essential. Early orthodontic treatment can make all the difference for your child, including keeping him/her out of the operating room!
Phase One Top McKinney Orthodontics is important for many reasons. It helps to correct overbites or underbites, allows proper biting and chewing, corrects habits like thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting, encourages clear speech, as well as making sure there is a good path for incoming permanent teeth. Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics provides a complimentary initial evaluation for children at the pivotal age of seven to eight years. We believe every parent should be informed regarding their child’s facial skeletal growth and whether or not Phase One orthodontic treatment would benefit their child. Getting your child checked by an orthodontist early brings peace of mind rather than regrets later. Call Smiles Hollywood Orthodontics today at 972-529-9700 to schedule your child’s FREE initial orthodontic evaluation. We look forward to meeting you soon!