For most people, achieving a healthy, beautiful smile is the reason for choosing to receive orthodontic care. But, orthodontic intervention might also be necessary to help facilitate the healthy and harmonious growth and function or the teeth and jaws.

Growth and Development evaluations are completed ate every 6 month recare visit. In some cases, children show indications of malocclusions needing a phased orthodontic approach. For example, severe crowding, cross bite, open bite, increased overjet, etc are all reasons that an early phase of orthodontics could be implemented

There are many causes for the signs of malocclusion mentioned above. Genetics pay a large role as well as habits. Habits such as open mouth breathing, thumb/finger sucking, or pacifier use can cause negative changes in the development of the j\ws. Many of these changes can be reversed naturally if the habit is topped early. If the changes are seen in the child’s smile, parents and patients will be counseled on the ways to help stop or improve the side effects.

Treatments to improved your child's’ smile and dental function can range from extractions of specific baby teeth to appliances or even braces. All treatment plans take into account the severity of the malocclusion, child's age, maturity, and cooperation level.

Interceptive orthodontic treatment (commonly referred to as Phase I)( allows minor tooth movement during an early developmental time in your child's life when baby teeth are still present. This can include the use of appliances or braces.


Discomfort is reduced and time and money are often saved. Minor preventative orthodontic procedures can often prevent major problems from developing later. Such as those listed below:

  • guiding permanent teeth into the proper positions
  • improving lip closure
  • reserving or gaining space for erupting permanent teeth
  • reducing the potential for to jaw joint damage
  • reducing the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
  • influencing proper jaw growth
  • ensuring the proper width of dental arches
  • improving eruption patterns
  • lowering the risk of damage to protruded upper teeth
  • shortening treatment time for later corrective orthodontics
  • improving some speech problems


Cost to the family and inconvenience are presented early in a child’s life. Occasionally the result of the interceptive procedure cannot be predicted totally before it is accomplished. The risks are the same as for full orthodontic therapy; but usually to a lesser degree.

The result of non-treatment:

Your child will likely need full orthodontic treatment, which will likely cost more than the interceptive care. Also the treatment is likely to be more difficult because early problems were not corrected of decreased in severity.

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Common Conditions

Here's a look at some of the conditions your child may have that may be alleviated or reversed by orthodontic treatment.

  • Crowded teeth - Teeth may be aligned poorly because the dental arch is small and/or the teeth are large. The bone and gums over the roots of extremely crowded teeth may become thin and recede as a result of severe crowding.
  • Protruding upper teeth - Thumb and finger sucking habits in young children is often the culprit for protruding upper teeth. The clinical term for this is "overjet," which happens when your child's upper front teeth protrude outward. Because they don't have normal contact with the lower front teeth, protruding front teeth are especially prone to being broken, chipped, or even knocked out. In some cases, overjet may indicate a poor bite of the back teeth, or molars, and more seriously, uneven jaw growth. Children with protruded upper teeth often have a lower jaw that is short in proportion to the upper jaw.
  • Deep overbite - A deep overbite or "deep bite" is caused by the lower incisor (front) teeth biting too close or into the gum tissue behind the upper teeth. When the lower front teeth bite into the palate or gum tissue behind the upper front teeth, significant bone damage and discomfort can occur. A deep bite can also contribute to excessive wear of the incisor teeth.
  • Underbite - Underbite, or lower jaw protrusion, usually occurs in a small percentage of children. Underbite is a condition in which the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. The lower front teeth protrude, creating a "crossbite." Orthodontic treatment involves monitoring jaw and tooth growth
  • Open bite - Open bite is usually the result of the upper and lower incisor teeth failing to make contact when biting down. This causes all the chewing pressure to be placed on the back teeth, making chewing less efficient and may contribute to significant tooth wear.
  • Spacing - If teeth are missing or small, or the dental arch is very wide, space between the teeth can occur. The most common complaint from those with excessive space is poor appearance.
  • Crossbite - Crossbite typically occurs when the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth. This condition can be easily alleviated if caught early.

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Orthodontic Appliances & Space Maintenance

Often when extractions are performed in young, developing children space is needed in order to preserve the area for the permanent tooth to erupt. A band and loop is a unilateral fixed spacer and often placed when one tooth is extracted, for example: a primary first molar.

Band and Loop

A band and loop is a unilateral fixed spacer involves one side of the mouth and often placed when one tooth is extracted before the permanent tooth erupts.

Bilateral space maintainers including the Nance appliance or Lower lingual holding arches are to hold space as well but more throughout the arch rather than one particular area either after an extraction on each side of the mouth or premature loss of a molar.

Bilateral space maintainers

Bilateral space maintainers connect to both sides of the mouth. These types of space maintainers are comfortably cemented to the teeth and cannot be removed by the child. They are used to prevent the shifting of permanent first molars and incisors. Examples of bilateral space maintainers include the transpalatal arch and lower lingual holding arch.

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Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can now choose from brackets that are clear or metallic, and in some cases, the color of your appliance. Wires are far less noticeable, and the latest materials are designed to move teeth faster with more comfort. Today, any age is a great age to wear braces!

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How Orthodontic Treatment Works

Orthodontic appliances are made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to the proper position.

Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can now choose from brackets that are clear or metallic, and in some cases, the color of your appliance. Wires are far less noticeable, and the latest materials are designed to move teeth faster with more comfort. Today, any age is a great age to wear braces!

Duration of Treatment

Depending on several factors, including age, treatment method, and how minor or severe your case is, treatment time varies and can last between one and three years. A big factor to a successful treatment is you, the patient! The more involved and diligent you are, the quicker and more efficient your treatment will be. For children, receiving interceptive, or early treatment, can also help provide a quicker treatment time later on in life.

Before beginning your orthodontic care, Dr. Eric Downey, Dr. Carolyn Muckerheide, or Dr. Ashley Schaaf will discuss all of your options and provide an estimate for how long your full treatment may take. Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment and learn more about orthodontics and the treatments we provide.

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Types of Braces

Traditional Metal Braces

metal braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth by using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.

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