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Types of Pre-Orthodontic Treatment

At Hillam Orthodontics, we don't rush into a treatment plan. The very best time to treat orthodontically is generally when all the permanent teeth are erupted in the mouth and the patient is growing. Generally, we like to be patient if everything is developing properly.

If we find issues that would affect the end outcome that need to be addressed immediately, we'll create a recommended early treatment plan.

Continuing Growth with Close Observation

If crowding or other orthodontic issues are of concern while your child is young, many of these problems can correct themselves overtime. With close observation, our orthodontists can assess if growth will correct the problem or if a pre-orthodontia treatment is necessary.

Palate Expanders

Our orthodontists could recommend a palate expander for your child's pre-orthodontic treatment if they have crowded, crooked, and overlapping teeth. A palate expander expands the palate to create more room for teeth to spread out. Expanding the palate can also prevent or treat sleep apnea (see MARPE Palate Expander).
Explore Different Types of Expanders

Tooth Extractions

Our orthodontists consider all the options before resorting to extracting a tooth to achieve the best results. For example, if your child has an impacted tooth (a tooth that cannot erupt in the mouth completely or in its proper place) due to a baby tooth, extracting that baby tooth can open up the proper room for that adult tooth to drop into place. Each patient is seen as a case-by-case basis and the orthodontist will discuss all options with you before determining the treatment.

Pre-Orthodontic Issues to Address

At our free consultation, we'll screen your child for these issues.
Anterior Crossbites
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When the lower jaw wraps around the upper teeth, it creates an anterior crossbite, but more commonly it is called an underbite. Depending on the severity of the underbite, some live with pain due to jaw misalignment. It can also be difficult to chew or speak. Many with an underbite also deal with enamel wear, as some of their teeth will wear faster than others.
Posterior Crossbites
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If the back upper teeth bite inside of the back lower teeth, this is what’s called a posterior crossbite. These crossbites can occur on one side of the mouth or on both sides. This can make chewing food difficult; and wear down the molars in an attempt to correct for the misalignment. Crossbites are evident at an early age and can be corrected in young children to aid in the development of the jaws and eruption of permanent teeth.
Deficient Maxilla’s
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A deficient maxilla is an underdevelopment of the bones in the upper jaw. While this is commonly found in individuals born with a cleft lip, deficient maxillas can also be found in individuals with Crouzon Syndrome, Angleman Syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome. It can also be caused by poor dental extractions.
Space Maintenance
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It’s possible to be missing teeth, extra space, or very limited space in the mouth for all sorts of reasons. Some children do not develop all of their permanent adult teeth and have extra space in their mouths. Many adults have missing teeth for various reasons and orthodontics can “fill the gap” quite literally. In cases where the teeth are crowding each other, orthodontia can expand the space within the mouth and straighten out the teeth.
Soft Tissue Trauma
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Soft tissue injuries of the mouth include damage to the lips, tongue, palate, gums, floor of mouth, and cheeks. Depending on the injury and healing progress, pre-orthodontics may be needed.
Hard Tissue Trauma
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Hard tissue's of the mouth are tooth enamel, dentin, and cementum. It's possible orthodontics will be necessary to treat these conditions as well as restorative dentistry.
Any Pathology
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If the patient has suffered from a pathological condition, we can work in tandem with an oral surgeon to help correct the pathology.
Airway Concerns
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A narrow maxilla bone doesn’t only create crowding within the mouth, but can also impact facial structure, create an obstructed nasal passage, and cause obstructive sleep apnea.To expand the maxilla bone, Hillam Orthodontics can install a bonded, banded or the MARPE Palate Expander in teenagers to young adults.

Why are palate expanders important for children?

Palate Expanders for Children: Improving Dental Health & Bite Alignment

A palate expander is important for children because it can help prevent overcrowding and possible impaction of the teeth, which can lead to a variety of dental problems. Overcrowding occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth for all of the teeth to grow in properly. This can cause teeth to become crooked, misaligned, or impacted. All of these problems can lead to issues with bite alignment, chewing, speech, and even self-esteem.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to start orthodontic treatment early?

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It’s best to begin pre-orthodontic treatment early, usually between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. During this time, the child’s jaws are still growing and developing, making it easier to guide the growth in the right direction. Jumping on treatment early can help correct problems like crowding, spacing, and bite issues before they become more complicated and difficult to correct in their later years.

What are some common issues that pre-orthodontic treatment can address?

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Pre-orthodontics can address bite issues, crowding and misaligned teeth, facial appearance, and airway problems. 

What is a palate expander, and how does it work?

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A palate expander is an orthodontic device used to widen the upper jaw. It’s used to address issues such as overcrowding, crossbites, and narrow arches. The treatment often only lasts a few months and is most commonly used in children and adolescents whose jaws are still developing.

To work, the palate expander applies pressure to the upper molars to gradually widen the arch of the upper jawbone through a process called osteogenesis. Osteogenesis is when the palate splits apart and creates new bone tissue in the gap. After the body has formed new bone tissue in the gap, it stabilizes the jaw and prevents relapse after the device is removed.

How long do you have to wear a palate expander?

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Our orthodontists will evaluate the patient’s records (x-rays, photographs, impressions, and in-person examination notes) to determine the treatment plan. At this consultation, our orthodontist will describe how long the patient will need to wear the palate expander. In most cases, pre-orthodontic treatment can last from a few to several months.

Will a palate expander hurt?

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Palate expanders can cause some discomfort, but it’s nothing more than Tylenol or Ibuprofin can’t help. If the expander material is irritating in the mouth, the patient can apply wax to the edges until the mouth adjusts to it. 


Why Hillam Orthodontics?

Board-certified Orthodontists
Offices in Idaho Falls, Driggs, & Afton
3 generations of doctors practicing since 1966

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