Early treatment is usually relatively simple and is often performed while many baby teeth are still present. There are a range of devices that we use in young children. At Pure Orthodontics, our orthodontic specialist recommends that children have their initial orthodontic evaluation around age seven when their teeth and jaws are still developing. Early interceptive orthodontics can eliminate or simplify orthodontic treatment in the teen years and may even prevent the need for tooth extraction.
Some children have a very narrow upper jaw, resulting in their upper teeth biting on the inside of the lower teeth. This is called a crossbite. Expanding the width of the upper jaw early can create an ideal environment for the jaw as it grows throughout the teenage years and can give the adult teeth the best chance to come through in a good position.
It is ideal for patients to undergo expansion treatment between the ages of 8 and 12 years, as the upper jaw has a growth plate that can be easily stretched. Adults can still undergo expansion, but a surgical procedure is required to separate the growth plate.
- Rapid Expansion Appliance: A Rapid Maxillary Expander (RME) is an appliance glued onto the upper back teeth and connected across the palate with a screw. The screw is turned once a day at home for a specific amount of days to achieve the ideal amount of expansion. This appliance is custom made for each patient, making it comfortable and easy to get used to. Click here to read our RME information guide and here for the RME instruction guide.
- Quadhelix Orthodontic Expansion: A Quadhelix is an expansion appliance used more commonly in younger children. It consists of two bands, which are glued to the upper six-year-old molars and an expansion wire across the palate, which is compressed when fitted. This wire gradually expands and pushes the teeth at the back outwards. A Quadhelix can be modified to push front teeth forward and can also be used to help break a thumb or finger-sucking habit. Click here to read our Quadhelix information guide and here for the instruction guide.
Growth Modifying Appliances
Functional appliances are used when a patient has an incorrect bite caused by a small or underdeveloped lower jaw. This can often appear as if the patient has protrusive or ‘buck’ front teeth.
Functional appliances work by holding the lower jaw forward. This changes muscle function and improves jaw position. By doing this, not only is the bite corrected, but the facial profile is also enhanced. As they are a type of growth-modifying appliance, they are only effective in growing patients and are ideally fitted before the pubertal growth spurt.
These appliances come in many different designs and can be removable or glued to the teeth. At Pure Orthodontics, the functional appliances we most commonly use are Twin Blocks and Cantilever Bite Jumpers (CBJ).
- Twin Block: A Twin Block appliance is a removable, functional appliance. It consists of an upper plate and a lower plate. The two plates fit together in the mouth in a way that encourages the lower jaw to be held forward as the teeth come together. An expansion screw may also be incorporated into the upper plate to expand the upper jaw. A Twin Block needs to be worn as close to full time as possible. Click here to read our Twin Block informational guide and here for the instruction guide.
- Cantilever Bite Jumper: A Cantilever Bite Jumper (or CBJ for short) consists of upper and lower frames, which are glued to the teeth. These frames are joined together by “arms,” which act to hold the lower jaw forward. The upper frame usually contains an expander, which will widen the upper jaw. CBJs are particularly effective because they cannot be removed by the patient and, therefore, work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since there is less need for patient co-operation, they are a great option for many children and treatment is often finished sooner than with a removable appliance. Click here to read our CBJ informational guide and here for the CBJ instruction guide.
- Orthodontic Headgear: Headgear is an orthodontic appliance with parts worn both inside and outside of the mouth. These devices are used when braces on their own are not capable of fixing the bite problem. They come in various designs, depending on the type of growth guidance and tooth movement required. Click here to read our headgear information guide and here for the instruction guide.
A removable appliance is an orthodontic plate that fits against the teeth, gums and palate. They can perform a number of different functions and are custom-made to suit each patient’s specific needs. They can widen the top jaw if it is too narrow, push the front teeth forward, encourage the teeth to grow into better alignment and much more. As they are removable, the patient must wear their removable appliance as much as possible for it to work. Click here to read our removable appliance information guide and here for our instruction guide.
Habit Correcting Appliances
Persistent habits such as thumb- or finger-sucking or nail-biting can have a negative effect on the alignment of a child’s teeth and even the shape and development of the facial bones. Despite their best efforts, many children find it difficult to stop a habit on their own, as it is a source of comfort. There are many options to try to stop these habits, but one of the most effective methods is to have an orthodontist fit a habit-correcting appliance. These are custom-made appliances that are generally hidden from view and are glued to the back teeth. Click here to read our thumb crib information guide.
Partial braces aid in the orthodontic treatment of young children by addressing the following issues:
- Improperly erupting adult teeth
If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the surrounding teeth will drift into the new space. This leads to a loss of space for the adult tooth to erupt, and a crowding problem can develop. Space maintainers help hold the space for unerupted adult teeth when baby teeth are lost prematurely. They come in various designs and are generally glued to the teeth. Click here to read our space maintainers information guide.