In some cases it is an advantage to commence treatment while the first baby teeth are present. Such treatment is often undertaken for a period of about 6 to 12 months falling between the ages of 9 and 12. These treatments include:
Upper Jaw Expansion
It is the upper jaw that is most commonly too narrow and we generally use an expansion appliance such as that shown. The appliance is fixed to teeth and gently widens the jaw over a period of time.
In selected cases a holding wire will save any available space as the last baby teeth are lost and the adult teeth come through. This is usually placed at 11 years of age. The aim to be able to make the straightening of the adult teeth easier and eliminate the need for adult teeth to be removed.
Plates are appliances that can be taken in and out of the mouth by the patient. Plates cannot move teeth with the same degree of accuracy as braces. We use plates for treating simple problems in young patients.
Functional appliances are designed to reduce the protrusion of the upper front teeth where the upper front teeth are too far forward. It was once hoped they would also stimulate the growth of the lower jaw to help the correction. We now know such an effect is only temporary and so we do not use these plates as jaw growers, but rather as protrusive bite fixers. They come in many different designs. Some are removable and some are used in the teenage years with braces. The picture shows a type of protrusive bite fixer.
Headgear is an appliance worn in younger patients that uses the back or top of the head as an anchor while the upper teeth are pulled backward. This is worn at home in the evenings and bed. And it does not have to be worn for sleepovers and school camps.