The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids see an orthodontic specialist, like Dr. Aimee Skelton, at age seven. Why age seven? This is the transitional period where kids are losing their baby (primary) teeth and have started getting their permanent teeth. This is the optimal time to see if a child will need early orthodontic treatment to avoid a more severe case once their adult teeth come in.
Why Orthodontic Appliances?
If Dr. Skelton feels that your child will benefit from early treatment, the first phase often includes orthodontic appliances. The appliance will prepare the mouth and create the best possible environment for permanent teeth to come in. Common orthodontic appliances are expanders, headgear and Herbst appliances.
What is an Expander?
An expander is an orthodontic appliance that is typically for younger patients. Cases that call for an expander usually involve a narrow roof (palate) that needs widening to create more space for teeth to come in. The widening of the upper and/or lower jaws help avoid common problems like crowding, impacted teeth or a crossbite. An expander is placed in the mouth for all day wear and uses a key to turn a device that widens the jaws over time.
What is Headgear?
Another type of orthodontic appliance is headgear. Headgear is used with patients who still have growing jaw bones. This appliance is normally recommended for patients who have a severely misaligned bite, usually an overbite or protruding front teeth. Headgear is worn partially outside and inside the mouth. It supports proper jaw development, alignment and growth. This orthodontic appliance can also help with aesthetics of the face and profile as well as create space for permanent teeth.
What is a Herbst Appliance?
A Herbst Appliance is also common in younger, growing patients. This appliance enhances lower jaw growth and moves the lower jaw forward to help correct an overbite. It is a fixed appliance, meaning you cannot remove it until treatment is complete. The Herbst appliance functions similar to headgear but is often more comfortable for patients.
Appliances Can Prevent More Severe Cases
No matter what type of appliance you or your child may need, it is important to follow your orthodontist's directions for wearing and cleaning. All orthodontic appliances are designed to help prevent a more severe case later in life. In many cases, appliances help to shorten time in braces and can even help prevent the possibility of surgery.
As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic appliances. We are here to help!