Lakewood Orthodontics Blog
March 22, 2021
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You know their little bumps and bruises as well as their little victories. While you enjoy the present, you also imagine what they’ll be like when they’re older. As a concerned parent, you want to be ready to face their needs and provide for them. As your little one looks up at you and smiles, you wonder whether they will need braces.
Well, here’s another thought to keep in mind: how soon will your child need braces? Phase 1 orthodontic treatment begins before all of the permanent teeth have erupted, but it can have a significant impact on their smile. Read on to learn the signs indicating that Phase 1 orthodontics may be right for your child.
Your Child Sucks Their Thumb
When your little one is upset or is settling down for the night, they may suck their thumb or take a pacifier to soothe themselves. Early on in life, this is fine. However, if they continue doing it beyond age three, this little habit can have a negative impact on their oral development, specifically on their bite and teeth alignment. In other words, if your child hasn’t stopped sucking their thumb or taking a pacifier, they may need Phase 1 orthodontics.
Your Child Has a Misaligned Bite
Do your child’s upper teeth match up properly with and touch the lower teeth when they close their mouth? A misaligned bite can make chewing difficult, wear down or damage certain teeth much faster than others, and even lead to consistent jaw, head, or neck pain. Whether your child has an open bite, cross bite, overbite, or underbite, Phase 1 orthodontics can start the treatment process to help your child be better able to eat their food. In fact, it can provide these changes much faster while your child is young than if you wait until they’re older.
Your Orthodontist Says Phase 1 Treatment Is Necessary
Perhaps the best way to know that your child is a good candidate for Phase 1 orthodontics is to take them to see an orthodontist when they turn seven years old. If your child still has mostly baby teeth, as many seven-year-olds do, you may think it’s too early to take them to see an orthodontist. But did you know that the sooner you address problems, the faster and easier it is to treat them? Making changes to their teeth’s alignment requires more intensive treatment after they’ve reached skeletal maturity. This specialist can identify and treat issues while your child is still developing, shortening total treatment time.
If your child needs to begin Phase 1 orthodontics, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re doing what’s best in the long run. That way, you can keep enjoying their smile for many years to come!
About the Author
Dr. Patricia Simon has more than 25 years of experience in orthodontics. After completing her orthodontic residency at Boston University, she underwent a Fellowship in Craniofacial and Dentofacial Abnormalities at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she continues to serve as a faculty member working with oral surgery residents. Although she is able to address major alignment issues later in life, she recommends preventing them in the first place with Phase 1 orthodontics. If you would like to schedule an appointment with her, you can contact Lakewood Orthodontics through the website.
December 7, 2020
Are you considering adult orthodontics in Lakewood but don’t know if you should since you’re over the age of 40? You’ll be pleased to learn that teenagers aren’t the only individuals who can benefit from the countless forms of treatment available these days. Whether it is traditional metal braces or Invisalign clear aligners, you can enjoy a straighter, healthier smile just like millions of others. Read on to learn what you can do to start the process of realigning your teeth and achieving the smile you’ve always wanted.(more…)
October 23, 2020
The dip in temperature means cozy nights by the fire and warm coffee in the morning. But it also means cold and flu season is just around the corner! Therefore, when you start to feel a little tickle in the back of your throat or a stuffy nose has you reaching for the tissue box every couple of minutes, priority number one is getting healthy. If you have Invisalign in Lakewood, here are a few tips to help protect your oral and overall health this season.(more…)
August 5, 2020
If you’ve visited our new website lately, you’ve probably noticed a few things have changed. Our belief in providing an excellent patient experience doesn’t just start when you enter our office. It actually begins from the moment you call a member of our team or visit us online! Complete with a fully refreshed look, you will find everything you need (and more) right here! Read on to learn why even with our fresh online presence, you’ll still receive the same great services in our Lakewood office.(more…)
August 12, 2016
As the swimming events at this year’s Olympic Games come to an end tonight, the world’s eyes are on swimmer Michael Phelps…including mine. As an orthodontist, I can’t help but look at people’s teeth. You know, like how Tom Cruise’s upper midline nearly lines up with his left nostril, or how Jewel’s upper right canine sticks out. It’s all just interesting for me to look at and evaluate. So, when Michael Phelps wins yet another very deserved gold medal and takes that podium, I stare in amazement at the structure of his mouth and the position of his teeth. I can’t help it! It makes me wonder if his career in swimming has resulted in this facial structure, or if the facial structure has allowed him to be the world class swimmer that he is.
Let me explain… Michael Phelps is a mouth-breather and has what we call “mouth breather facies”. The characteristics; long face, open-mouth position, over developed muscles around his mouth, upper front teeth that don’t overlap the lower front teeth (an open-bite), a narrow upper jaw, and swallowing and speech patterns that include a tongue-thrust. Granted, there are genetics at play here, but form follows
function according to the functional matrix theory proposed by Dr. Melvin Moss a half a century ago.
I talked about mouth breathing and the effect it has on growth and development of the width of the upper jaw in the last blog. In general, this long-term open position of the lower jaw, allows the sides of the upper jaw to collapse because the tongue, which “lives” connected to the lower jaw, is not sitting against the roof of the mouth developing width. In addition to a loss in the width of the upper jaw, we often find that the upper jaw begins to grow vertically at a faster rate than it would otherwise. Again, this is because of the position of the lower jaw. When the mouth is held open, there is no force from the lower jaw pushing against the upper jaw. This allows unfettered growth of the bone and the teeth towards lower jaw, which is held in an open position. After all, the function of teeth is to chew, and teeth will always attempt to grow towards each other in order to maintain chewing contact. What becomes apparent is a very “gummy” smile.
Lastly, mouth breathers tend to have a very long lower facial height. This is evaluated by dividing the face into the facial thirds. The upper third is defined as the measurement from the hairline (trichion) to the point on the forehead between the eyebrows (glabella) ; the middle third is from glabella to the point where the nose attaches just above the upper lip (subnasale); and the lower third from subnasale to the bottom of the chin. These distances should all be about the same in a “normal” facial pattern. A long lower facial height results from a combination of the mouth remaining open and the upper jaw, especially in the molar area, growing downward. As the teeth make contact with the jaw in this position, the direction of growth of the lower jaw is directed more vertically than horizontally. For example, take a look at Arnold Shwarzenegger’s jaw line compared to Phelps’. More force of the lower jaw against the upper jaw results in a shorter lower facial height and a more horizontal direction of growth.
So, back to my wonder and amazement… as an orthodontist, I wonder if Phelps’ is such a great swimmer because his facial pattern allows him to be so efficient at breathing through his mouth, or if his years and years of training and breathing through his mouth have created the facial pattern! Orthodontists can influence this pattern in a growing child- we do it all day long. And so, I wonder if Phelps’ little baby boy will have the same facial pattern, and whether he will be an Olympic swimmer in the future. In the meantime, I’ll continue to cheer Phelps on as he goes for his final gold! Go Team USA!
June 15, 2016
My cousin sent me a text the other day—in a panic. Here’s the picture he sent me .
He happened to look into the mouth of his seven-year-old and noticed that his front teeth are coming in with a bit of a twist to them. “Why is this happening?”, he wanted to know. “His baby teeth were perfectly straight!” My first question for him was whether his son suffers from allergies or frequent tonsillitis. “Yes! Why?”
Why? Because if the airway is obstructed, we humans will breathe through our mouths. With the mouth in an open position, the tongue, which is attached to the lower jaw, does not sit where it normally should—against the roof of the mouth. The tongue is a very strong muscle, and its normal day-to- day activities, like swallowing and talking, help promote the development of the upper jaw. Without this normal influence of the tongue, the upper jaw tends to collapse, or become narrow. The adult teeth developing inside the upper jaw start running out of space, and remember, they are bigger than the baby teeth they are about to replace. It’s kind of like shrinking your jeans in the wash…it makes it a little hard to fit into them, especially if you’ve gained a few pounds. So, these developing teeth start twisting and turning to make their way through the space available to them—they’ll come in crooked!
Other things that will cause an upper jaw to develop narrow are things like a tongue-thrust ( or juvenile swallowing pattern) and thumb-sucking. The swallowing pattern effects the development of the upper jaw similarly to the mouth-breathing pattern. The question there is, which came first? If the upper jaw becomes narrow due to mouth-breathing, the tongue starts running out of room for its normal function and accommodates itself to where it “lives”—close to the lower teeth. A lisp may begin developing with this as well.
Thumb-sucking causes the upper jaw to become narrow because of the upward forces placed upon the developing upper jaw. Right up the middle of the upper jaw is a suture—similar to the soft-spot on a baby’s head. If the thumb is in the mouth long enough and places enough force against the upper jaw, the suture allows changes such that the sides of the upper jaw begin to collapse inward towards the tongue and the roof of the mouth becomes very “deep”.
All of these issues are easily addressed if caught early. Often a palatal expander, commonly called a “butterfly” will be used in order to widen the upper jaw. In the case of a tongue-thrust or thumb-sucking habit, a habit-breaker can be used either before or after expansion.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic exam by age seven to evaluate for these and other potential problems that, if caught early, can make treatment during adolescence easier. If you have concerns about your child, we’d be happy to take a look. Schedule a complimentary exam by calling our office.