Did you know that it is recommended to take your children for their first orthodontic visit when they are 7 years old? Although your child will have a mix of baby teeth and permanent/adult teeth, early consultations are a great way for orthodontists to detect a misaligned bite, teeth, and jaws. Treatment for these dental issues can go beyond the familiar orthodontic devices like braces. Orthodontists often suggest other functional appliances as part of your child's larger orthodontic treatment. These appliances fulfill an important function in ensuring that your child has a healthy and beautiful smile. Here are a few that you may not have heard of.
Three Lesser-Known Orthodontic Appliances Your Child Might Need
The Nance Button is an oral appliance often described as a space maintainer. If your child loses their upper baby teeth too early, their first permanent molars might begin to move forward. The Nance button acts as a holding arch that prevents the adult/permanent molars from shifting, ensuring that they remain in their correct position. This orthodontic device has a u-shaped acrylic plate that fits comfortably on the palate. It has two metal bands attached to the upper back teeth, keeping them in place until the other adult teeth erupt.
- Pros: Depending on the extent of treatment your child needs, they may be fitted with a removable Nance or a cemented device. The removable device can be taken out during sports or leisure activities. Because the oral device is placed on the mouth's roof, it is almost invisible, so nobody knows it's there.
- Cons: Your child may experience gum irritation, particularly on their palate. To prevent this, encourage them to take special care of this area in their mouth while brushing their teeth. By cleaning their palate, they can stop bacteria and food particles from being trapped in the appliance.
Like the Nance, the lower lingual holding arch is a space maintainer specially designed to fit the lower teeth. The lower holding arch is a u-shaped appliance that sits behind the lower teeth. It has two metal bands placed on the two lower molars, preventing the teeth from moving forward. Your orthodontist may suggest a lingual holding arch if your child loses their baby teeth prematurely.
- Pros: The lingual holding arch is fairly discreet, and once your child gets used to having it in their mouth, they should be at ease.
- Cons: It is normal for your child to experience discomfort around the cheeks, gums, and tongue. Rinsing the mouth with a therapeutic mouthrinse or at-home saltwater mix can help to alleviate irritation. The device can also affect the clarity of their speech and make them self-conscious about how they sound. You can encourage them to speak out loud as much as possible. This will allow the tongue to get used to the new dental device.
The twin block appliance is commonly used on younger children and teenagers whose jawbone is still developing. Orthodontists use this device to correct severe malocclusions (misalignment) in the upper and lower jaw. An overjet is a misalignment in the jaw that causes the upper teeth to stick out in front of the lower teeth much further than normal. Twin blocks assist in shifting the lower jaw forward. This functional appliance has two acrylic blocks that sit on the top molars and bottom bicuspids. When the mouth is closed, the two parts combine to position the lower jaw forward. Once the perfect alignment has been achieved, your child's orthodontist may recommend teeth-straightening treatment.
Pros: Twin blocks are less likely to affect your child's speech. The treatment is fairly short and may last for about 9-12 months. Because twin blocks are a removable device, your child can take them out after eating to rinse them off.
Cons: This orthodontic appliance needs to be fitted while your child's jawbone is still growing, so early screening is vital. It is normal for your child to experience excessive salivation as their mouth gets used to the device. This should go away within a few weeks.
Orthodontia is an important part of your child's dental care. With early visits, orthodontists can determine and treat misalignment issues that can affect the appearance of your child's teeth and their ability to speak and eat properly. Feel free to ask them about these appliances and how they can ensure that your child has a healthy and beautiful smile!
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.