Early Treatment/ Interceptive Treatment

Dr. Meyer can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.   While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem  with facial growth and development or tooth eruption that isn't obvious  to the untrained eye. A check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine.   Or, Dr. Meyer may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.   The best time for an Orthodontic Check-up is around age 7 or when the permanent top front teeth are emerging.

Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, Dr. Meyer will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.

Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:

  • Guide jaw growth
  • Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits including thumb and finger sucking
  • Improve appearance
  • Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
  • Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face

Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile. If your child is older than 7, it’s certainly not too late for a check-up.  Because patients differ in both physiological development and treatment needs, Dr. Meyer’s goal is to provide each patient with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.

Lingual Arch

What is a Lingual Arch?
A lingual arch is a fixed appliance that attaches to the lower permanent molars and rests passively along the inside (lingual) of the lower front teeth.

What does it do?
A lingual arch is used up to a year prior to braces to help fit all the permanent teeth in the lower jaw.  It is the lower teeth that most often determine whether extractions are needed during orthodontics. A lingual arch does not prevent braces later, but it most often allows us to correct the crooked teeth (using braces) without having to extract permanent teeth.

A lingual arch also maintains space for prematurely lost baby teeth. This prevents the remaining teeth from drifting into undesirable positions that may block the eruption of permanent teeth.

How does it work?
The baby teeth in back are much bigger than the permanent teeth that take their place (Fig. 1).

Normally, when the baby teeth are lost the permanent molars drift forward into the extra space and the front teeth stay crooked.  By placing a lingual arch, the permanent molars cannot drift forward and, instead, the crooked front teeth drift backward into the extra space thereby  “self correcting” (Fig 2.)

Palate Expander

What is a Palate Expander?

It is an orthodontic appliance that is cemented to the upper molars and expands the palate. It  consists of orthodontic bands rigidly connected to a midline jack-screw that, when turned with a special key, expands 1/4 of a millimeter per turn. We give you the key, show you how to turn it, and then you turn it  at home one time each day until the desired expansion is achieved.

Why is it used?

The palate expander is, without  a doubt, the most versatile and reproducible appliance used in clinical orthodontics today. It  is primarily used to correct a crossbite of the back teeth, but is also used to make room for crowded teeth, broaden the smile, and improve the profile by  allowing the jaws to fit together in conjunction with other treatment. Lastly, palate expansion can also aid in the eruption of impacted canines and other permanent teeth.

How does it work?

In growing children the two palatal shelves meet in the middle but are not connected, and as the palate expander is turned, the two shelves move apart creating a void between them. Since the two front teeth are on different sides of the palate, the two front teeth usually spread apart as well (See Above). Turning the key usually takes only  2-4 weeks, but the expander needs to stay in for an additional 4-6 months to allow the bone to grow and fill the void that was created. The gap between the two front teeth tends to self-correct during this time.

Does it hurt?

No! But it does feel somewhat bulky at first and requires a brief period of adjustment. Turning the key never results in pain; instead, most patients describe a mild pressure in the roof of their mouth (or nose!) and will often feel some pressure on the teeth to which the expander is cemented.  Initially, talking and eating are different but within a few days are back to normal.