Back to Top

The Comfort, Care and Personalized Treatment You Deserve

Conservative Treatment Aligned With Each Patient’s Goals

child orthodontics

Closeup of crowded teeth in dental patient's mouth

Upper jaw expansion is an orthodontic treatment that creates more space growth for developing kids by widening the circumference of the palate. This procedure helps correct crossbites, reduces overcrowding, and improves breathing ability. Most adolescents will receive this treatment before 16 years of age, but adults can also expand their upper jaw, if needed, as well. Read on to find out how upper jaw expansion works and what the advantages are with these tips!

 

Jaw Positioning and Malocclusion

Many patients deal with malocclusion, or crooked teeth and a poor bite. A poor bite refers to the way the upper and lower teeth line up, which is affected by the structure of the jaw. A “normal bite” consists of the upper teeth sitting slightly forward of the lower teeth, which allows for proper movement. Malocclusion is normally a cosmetic problem, but when it interferes with how teeth erupt, it can cause crooked teeth and tooth decay. A common cause of malocclusion is having too much or too little room in the jaw, which affects whether teeth grow in crowded or crooked. The shape and size of the jaw can also affect how severe someone’s malocclusion is, but thumb-sucking and tooth loss can also influence this process. For many patients, especially children, malocclusion is caused by a limited amount of space in the mouth for teeth to grow, so they either grow in crooked or the bite is altered. For this reason, many young dental patients receive upper jaw expansion treatments to allow more room in the mouth and prevent malocclusion. As more study and insight has been gained on the structure of the mouth, there are now more possibilities to fix incorrect bites, adjust occlusion and prevent crooked teeth starting from an earlier age.

 

Reasons For Upper Jaw Expansion

Upper jaw expansion is a specific treatment for widening the circumference of the palate to increase the perimeter of the dental arch in the mouth, which creates more space for teeth to grow. When there is enough room for teeth to grow, they are more likely to develop correctly. During childhood, palatal or maxillary expanders are used to aid this process. Through these expanders, dentists can help correct a crossbite that is caused by malocclusion. Normally, the upper teeth should close around the outside of the lower teeth, but when someone has a narrow palate, the opposite can occur and create a crossbite. As the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, an asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw can develop and change the symmetry of one’s face. This can cause serious complications if not addressed early on. Lastly, upper jaw expansion methods improve breathing ability, which is greatly affected by a narrow jaw. A narrow or deep upper jaw can make it difficult for a child to breathe through their nose and results in constant mouth breathing. While it doesn’t sound very serious, consistent mouth breathing keeps the mouth open at night, allowing for unfiltered bacteria to enter into the oral cavity, causing dry mouth and halitosis (bad breath).

 

Treatment OptionsPatient with dental expander in mouth being treated by dentist

Upper jaw expansion is most successful when done at an earlier age while the mouth is still developing. For adults, those with a crossbite may only need a dental expansion instead of a palatal expansion, but may need surgery if palatal expansion is required to fix concerns. Depending on the age of the patient and the reason for treatment, a rapid palatal expander (RPE) may be used to increase the width of the jaw. The RPE is attached to the upper molars by bonding or cemented bands, and uses a special key that is used to widen the space by turning a screw in the appliance at certain points in time. This process puts extra pressure on the two halves of the upper jaw, which causes extra bone to grow between them. Gradually, by turning the screw with the key each day, the jaw widens to make room available for developing teeth. For adults, removable expanders can be used, as well, whenever the degree of expansion is minimal. Resembling a partial denture, removable expanders are typically made of chrome and recommended for adults as they more easily comply with treatment. After treatment, an orthodontic retainer may be given to maintain the space until all permanent teeth have developed. A third but least common option for expansion is a surgically assisted rapid palatal expander (SARPE), which is a combination of orthodontic treatment and surgery. This is used in the case that expansion cannot be achieved by the appliance alone. A custom appliance is made before surgery, and while during surgery, the upper jaw is intentionally fractured to separate it into movable sections. This allows the bone to grow between the fractures after the appliance is inserted.

 

Pros and Cons

Palatal expanders help straighten teeth, improve breathing and fix incorrect bites, but there are important suggestions to make note of. Since children are most likely to have one, a palatal expander, just like any orthodontic appliance, needs to be thoroughly cleaned each day to prevent plaque buildup and decay around the teeth. For young children, this can be difficult to do without help and can be easily overlooked, so parental supervision is essential. Additionally, the entire process can cost up to $3,000, depending on the degree of correction. For many, there is also some minor discomfort during expansion, but it is well worth it when you’re avoiding an inaccurate bite later in life.

 

For more information on which treatment option is best to fix yours or your child’s palate, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our experienced team is dedicated to improving your oral health and getting you the smile that you deserve!

 

Rubber Bands and Braces

Posted on: February 22, 2019

Closeup view of a woman's mouth with braces and elastics

Why use rubber bands with braces? Some people have them, and some people don’t need to use them at all. Along with brackets, archwires, and ligatures, rubber bands are just another part of braces. Rubber bands are extremely helpful as they help move the teeth and jaw into proper alignment. They are connected to the actual bracket and help improve your bite. If your jaw is misaligned, read on to discover how rubber bands might be the option to straighten your teeth and jaw at the same time!

 

Parts of Braces

Modern technology has changed the lives, and smiles, of millions of patients worldwide who have used or currently use braces. Nowadays, braces can be as inconspicuous as we want, with some brackets being attached to the backs of teeth, rather than the front, for a more aesthetic appeal. With the invention of a variety of orthodontic appliances, such as lingual braces, Invisalign, clear braces, and traditional, the patient can decide what braces fits their oral health goals the best. Along with the many types of braces we learn about, there are also other parts of braces that we aren’t as familiar with, such as “bracket,” “archwire,” “springs,” and “ligatures.” We have heard of the different components of braces, but what does an archwire do? How do springs help adjust our teeth? Depending on your needs, your orthodontist will install any of these appliances to help you get the best smile in the shortest amount of time possible.

 

Brackets are the square part of the braces that are directly attached to the tooth, usually through a cement that bonds it to each individual tooth. They are usually made of steel or clear ceramic, and they guide the archwire into the appropriate placement. The archwire is held by brackets and is designed to guide the movement of the teeth during treatment. They are normally made from stainless steel, but also can be made with titanium. Springs go between brackets and around the archwire and are also made of stainless steel or titanium. They function as a force that opens or closes a space between teeth. The archwire and the bracket are connected through ligatures, which are the little rubber bands that wrap around each bracket to hold the archwire in place. For adolescents, these are usually the best part about braces because they come in a variety of colors that kids can choose from, and are changed after each orthodontic visit whenever the archwire is tightened. Although ligatures are rubber bands, they are not the same thing as interarch rubber bands, which have a major impact on jaw and bite alignment.

 

Rubber Bands

Interarch rubber bands, commonly known as “rubber bands” or “elastics,” ensure that your child’s teeth are lining up properly. They adjust bite and jaw position, such as an overbite or underbite, and are connected to the bracket with hooks. They create a force to move the teeth in a particular direction, specifically closer together. The top and bottom tooth bracket are connected through these bands, which adjusts the position of the teeth in the mouth and the position of the jaw. These rubber bands are removed during meals as well as while cleaning your teeth and brackets. Usually, they are replaced daily because of the wear they endure and their likelihood of breaking if used for too long. When worn to adjust a misaligned bite, interarch rubber bands are typically worn at all times, except for when eating or cleaning your teeth. If the treatment is only minor, you might only have to wear the bands at night. The consistent tension on the teeth and jaw is what makes these bands effective. If a patient doesn’t wear their bands in the prescribed manner, whether it be the length of time is too short or you’re wearing more bands than normal, this can lengthen treatment time and move your teeth in an unintended way. Not every patient will have to use interarch rubber bands, but if your orthodontic prescribes you to wear them, make sure that you follow his or her directions exactly and take good care of your bands.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of BracesYoung boy with braces holding toothbrush

While braces have revolutionized the dental and orthodontic professions, there are some rules that a patient needs to follow to protect and get the most use out of their orthodontic appliances. Always make sure to keep your teeth clean when wearing braces. Brushing and flossing under the archwire and between the brackets is essential to remove plaque, which can easily build up on your teeth with braces. To make sure that your teeth are being cleaned entirely, replace your toothbrush every three months or as soon as the bristles are frayed. Go to all of your orthodontic appointments so that they can adjust your archwire and monitor your teeth’s movement. If you delay your adjustments, your treatment time can be increased, which can be expensive.

 

Even though braces are strong, you can still break a bracket or an archwire with the things that you eat. Avoid foods that can get stuck in your teeth or your braces, such as nuts, popcorn, hard candy, ice, and sticky foods like chewing gum or caramel. Try not to eat as much sugary foods as it can lead to tooth decay around the brackets, which can permanently damage your teeth. Especially for active teenagers and adults, use a mouthguard during physical activity or when playing a sport to protect your mouth and jaw from getting hurt. Following this list of do’s and don’ts will increase the likelihood of having a positive and shorter experience with braces.

 

Getting The Smile You Deserve

For other tips and suggestions about orthodontic appliances and which one is best for you, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for a comprehensive exam. With our team of qualified and dedicated individuals, we will provide you or your child with the best orthodontic care for a great price. Call now to learn more!

Does Your Child Really Need Braces?

Posted on: February 15, 2019

Young girl smiling and wearing braces

We typically get our braces put on during our teenage to adult years, but how do you know whether your young child should have braces or not? Child orthodontics is a common practice for those children struggling with crooked, overlapping, or overcrowded teeth, or a misaligned jaw. There are many advantages for children as they receive braces earlier on in life as it can prevent future orthodontic treatment and guide incoming teeth into the proper position. Learn how to recognize whether your child needs braces through these tips!

 

When To Start

Young kids go through a lot of physical changes during adolescence, and some of those changes include jaw and teeth development. Orthodontics has become more and more common in young children to adjust certain orthodontic issues that occasionally occur as a child develops. Traditionally, orthodontic treatment begins once a child has lost most of their baby (primary) teeth and a majority of their permanent teeth have grown in, which typically occurs between the ages of 8 and 14. Even though braces is recommended at this age, it is a good idea to get an orthodontic evaluation for your child by the time they turn 7 years old; at this age, an orthodontist is able to detect early symptoms of orthodontic problems, such as an underbite or crossbite, which can cause severe complications and more treatment later on if left untreated at an early age. Bones are still growing during this age, so it is an ideal time to meet with an orthodontist to monitor bone and jaw development while evaluating any apparent orthodontic issues.

 

Advantages of Child Orthodontics

Although child orthodontics is only necessary if there are physical developmental issues within the mouth, receiving orthodontic treatment as a child has certain advantages. Visiting an orthodontist at an early age allows for observation of incoming teeth and reduces the risk of impacted teeth as your child loses their baby teeth and their permanent teeth take their place. As the orthodontist monitors your child’s teeth, they can help guide their teeth into the correct position as soon as they begin erupting, usually through braces or other orthodontic devices that help move teeth into the correct positions. Regular orthodontic visits also decrease the risk of hidden dental issues and permanent tooth extractions, as it allows for the orthodontist to adjust the jaw so that teeth crowding doesn’t occur.

 

Child orthodontics doesn’t always imply braces. Since a child’s jaw and teeth are still growing, many orthodontic issues, such as crowding, can be addressed before complications occur later on during adolescence. In this case, orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics. Many times, a child’s dental arch may be too small to fit all of their teeth. Just a few decades ago, it was a common practice to simply remove some permanent teeth to make space in the mouth. Now, though, child orthodontics can avoid this through the use of a palatal expander that expands the child’s upper dental arch, which allows adult teeth to emerge in a better position. Interceptive orthodontics can speed up the process of aligning teeth into the proper position and cause future treatment to be shorter and less involved.

 

How Much Does It CostTransparent dental orthodontic aligner

If braces are fit too early on a child, treatment can take longer and be more expensive. For this reason, it’s important to have regular orthodontic visits to monitor tooth and jaw development to ensure that whenever your child receives braces, it’s at the correct time. The braces that your orthodontist recommends will depend on your child’s type of problem that he or she has. There are three types of braces that most children will receive, and they each have different advantages and disadvantages:

 

  • Traditional metal braces – Have steel ties holding the wires between the brackets in place. Cost is driven by what your orthodontist will charge for treatment, including multiple office visits.
  • Damon braces – Do not have steel ties, but the brackets themselves hold the wires in place. Typically more expensive and can cost up to $8,000, but you pay for less dental appointments since the braces are self-ligating.
  • Invisalign (or other clear or removable aligners) – Fit over the child’s teeth similar to a mouthguard. Your child will receive a number of aligners during the duration of their treatment, so cost is determined by the amount of aligners needed to achieve correction.

 

Just like adult orthodontics, child orthodontics can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on what level of correction your child needs. If your child needs to have teeth extracted or be fitted for other appliances, the cost will most likely go up, as well. The way your child complies to orthodontic treatment will also affect the cost. Make sure that they are brushing and flossing everyday so as to avoid tooth decay, which will increase the cost of treatment as your dentist will have to treat around the braces to fix the decay.

 

Is It Necessary?

As mentioned before, whether your child needs braces or not at an earlier age is dependent upon their mouth structure and how their teeth form. For more information about child orthodontics or if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation, contact Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!. Our experienced and highly trained orthodontic staff offers a variety of orthodontic treatments and technology so that you can be confident your children are receiving the best care available.