Although treatment plans are customized for each patient, most wear their braces from one to three years, depending on the oral care issues that need correcting. This is followed by a period of wearing a "retainer," which holds teeth in their new positions. Although a little discomfort is expected during treatment, today's braces are more comfortable than ever before.
A palatal expander may be used to expand the child's upper dental arch so there is more room for teeth to grow in, thus reducing crowding in the mouth. The procedure involves the installation of the appliance. It consists of two pieces of plastic attached to both sides of the upper molars, and an expansion screw. When the expansion screw is turned, the device pushes the two sides away from each other, thus gradually widening the jaw and making room for the child’s adult teeth. Once the arch is the proper size, there's a better chance that the adult teeth will come in in a better position.
Space maintainers are another example of an early intervention technique. When a child looses a tooth prematurely, as a result of decay or injury, the other teeth can shift to fill the vacant space. As a preventative measure, a dentist can place a space maintainer to hold the space until the permanent tooth comes in. Space maintainers can be a band or a temporary crown, which is attached to the vacant space. When the permanent tooth begins to emerge the dentist will remove the space maintainer. This procedure may eliminate the need for further or more intensive orthodontics in the future.