Dentofacial Orthopedics refers to treatment done by an orthodontist that affects the bones and musculature as they are growing. This treatment is usually done at an early age (typically 6-10) and is often referred to as "Early Interceptive Orthodontics", or "Phase I Orthodontics". The purpose of this phase is to accomplish changes with the face that cannot be done later after the bones have hardened.
This orthopedic phase usually lasts about 1 year or longer. The treatment may involve devices like expanders, headgears, functional appliances, or even a few braces. Usually appointments need to be made about once every 4-7 weeks. After this Phase I is completed we then continue to monitor the patient as needed (about once every 4-6 months) until all of the permanent teeth erupt.
After all of the permanent teeth erupt, (about age 12-13), a 2nd phase is usually needed. This second phase is referred to as "Phase II". The 2nd phase can usually be done with Invisaligners or full braces. This 2nd phase is to align and detail the teeth, finishing the job started in the orthopedic phase.
Reasons for Early Treatment:
- The face or profile are not in balance or aesthetically pleasing.
- Overbites / Underbites / Deepbites / Crossbites / Dental protrusions.
- Speech problems / Tongue thrusting / Thumb or finger sucking / Mouth breathing.
- Chewing difficulty / Jaw joint problems.
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- Proper jaw alignment creates a better facial profile.
- Reduces the need to extract permanent teeth.
- Reduces the need for corrections done by jaw surgery.
- Often shortens the patient's time in full braces (Phase II).
- Improves the young patient's self-esteem at a critical time in their social development.
- Usually produces a more stable long term result.
- Takes advantage of the fact that younger children are often more cooperative than teenagers.
What will happen if this Phase I is not done ?
Orthodontic treatment can be done at almost any age. However if the bones have already hardened, the orthodontist will often have to accept the bones as they are. The teeth are then moved within the bones to obtain the best possible result for that given bone structure. Extractions of permanent teeth are often done to produce certain results and sometimes surgery is used to move the hardened bones into a better position.
To find out whether your child would benefit from Dentofacial Orthopedics it is best to have them examined by our office at an early age. There is no cost for the initial examination and no advantage to wait.