The term dentofacial orthopedics can be intimidating, so it’s easier to think about this treatment in terms of its purpose. Orthodontics are intended to manage the movement of teeth, and you’re most likely familiar with the orthodontic basics—take a look back at those old middle school photos if you don’t remember! Dentofacial orthopedics, in contrast, are intended to manage the development and growth of the jaw, bite alignment, and facial structure.
Dentofacial orthopedics can be used to treat children and adults, but the difference in treatment and potential outcome is significant. In young patients, the bones of the jaw and face are still forming. That means that it’s easier for an expert to control how the bones grow and the direction of their movement as they grow.
Adults can be dentofacial orthopedic patients, but adult facial bones are no longer growing. That means that although a medical team can work to adjust bite and move teeth and bones into proper position, patients may require surgery, and the degree of correction may be limited.
The Phases of Orthodontic Solutions
Dentofacial orthopedic treatment can begin at 7 to 8 years. Usually called Phase 1 treatment, this stage occurs before your child has completely developed his or her full set of adult teeth. During this phase, your orthodontist will work to correct and normalize bone structure growth patterns to adjust disproportionate areas.
This is a chance for parents and orthodontic professionals to work together to ensure an even, bright smile down the road, and there are significant benefits to starting this phase at the correct time.
Phase 2 is the more familiar stage of orthodontic solutions and usually involves braces. This is when teeth are straightened and aligned. The braces of today may be different from what you remember!
Correctly Timing Intervention
Timing is key to a young person’s successful treatment plan, so it is important that your orthodontist review your child’s progress as teeth and bone structure change over time. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all kids have an orthodontic consultation by the time they are seven years old, with the goal of developing a formalized plan for early intervention.
Modern dentofacial orthopedics offer an amazing array of options for correcting smile, bite, and speech with early intervention. Early orthodontic solutions can also prevent the need for surgery down the road, promote higher self-esteem as children mature into their teenage years, and are an excellent opportunity to start kids down the path to a lifetime of excellent oral health.
Taking First Steps
When you’re ready to make your first appointment, get in touch with our team. Dr. Carlyle will start with digital images and a thorough first exam, discuss her findings with you, and then make treatment recommendations.