Does my child need early orthodontic treatment?

braces for kids

Does my child need early orthodontic treatment?

8 August 2022 | By Dr. Eric Meyer

braces for kidsWhen it comes to early orthodontic treatment, we prefer to wait until a child has lost all of their baby. However, some kids benefit greatly from an early phase of treatment while in the the mixed dentition (typically ages 7-10). This means the child has a glaring issue that can really lead to greater problems down the road if left untreated.

Another term for early treatment is “interceptive orthodontics.” Why, because we want to intercept problems before they turn into headaches. We’ll get to a few examples shortly. 

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing an orthodontist around age 7. This allows an orthodontist to evaluate a child in the early stages of growth and diagnose problems related to growth, tooth development, and tooth eruption, among other things. 

So what do we look for in kids who need an early phase of treatment? Common problems, among others, may include:

Tooth related

  • Side (posterior) crossbite – the top back teeth overlap inside the bottom back teeth
  • Front (anterior crossbite – commonly called an “underbite, where the lower front teeth overlap in front of the upper front teeth
  • Severe crowding and malalignment
  • Excessive spacing, often accompanied by protruding front teeth (that stick out)
  • Space maintenance – when baby teeth are lost prematurely, a small appliance holds the space for us
  • Extra teeth, missing teeth, or impacted teeth
Growth and development related
  • A deficient upper jaw or a strong lower jaw contributing to an underbite
  • A strong upper jaw or deficient lower jaw contributing to excessive space between the top and front teeth
  • Asymmetric growth of the jaws due to crossbites or facial trauma
  • Craniofacial anomalies, such as cleft lip and palate
Treating these issues early on and many others will allow for a positive influence on the growth of the child, avoid impaction of teeth, lower the risk of trauma to the front teeth, and in the case of extra or missing teeth, plan for the future. Although a small investment, this early treatment will save you time, money, and unnecessary procedures later on. For more detailed information on early treatment click here to see a description of common problems and how they are solved with early treatment. For a free exam for your child feel free to contact us 🙂

-Dr. E

Relapse: Help! My teeth have shifted!

teeth shifted

Relapse: Help! My teeth have shifted!

25 July 2022 | By Dr. Eric Meyerteeth shifted

So you’re finally done with orthodontic treatment. You’ve spent the money and the time for your friendly orthodontist to take off those braces or finish those clear aligner trays. They give you a retainer with a set of instructions and you are the happiest person alive!

Days or months go by and your retainer is gone! Maybe your dog ate it? Perhaps the waiter threw it away with your napkin? Or you left it at that vacation destination, only to remember that night on flight back. 

Give it time and your teeth will shift. The degree of relapse will vary from person to person. Some individuals will experience very little shifting, while others significant movement. It’s a matter of stability. My wise professor always told us, “the most stable malocclusion is the initial malocclusion.” What he meant was the greater we deviate from the initial alignment of your teeth the less stable the resulting outcome of treatment. Patient’s with very complex malocclusions and extremely difficult cases will need greater consideration in retention (in general). We may even consider a “fixed” retainer, which is a small wire glued to the tongue side of your teeth in the event you do not wish to have a removeable retainer. Regardless of where you started, you and I would prefer to keep things the way we left them when we finished treatment! 

Your greatest fear may be going through another short phase of braces, but really this is a great time to consider a few clear aligners to get you back on track. Our retainers just so happen to be “Invisalign” style, clear retainers, so consider these “active” retainers. If you think that your teeth have shifted after orthodontic treatment come see us. We’d be happy to get you back to a straight smile! For more information on treating relapse with clear aligners click here or call us at 563-556-2353. 

-Dr. E 

Invisalign®: A clear alternative…

invisalign clear trays

Invisalign®: A clear alternative...

18 July 2022 | By Dr. Eric Meyer

It’s the year of 2022. invisalign

Self-driving cars are not too far away, Elon Musk is sending re-usable rocket ships into outerspace, and we’re still moving teeth with metal? Not so fast! Align technology launches Invisalign® clear aligners in the late ’90s, howeverrrr, it’s first product is not even close to the efficiency and control that braces offer. Fast forward 20 years and the plastic is much better, the understanding of the force systems are well-studied, and features such as “attachments” (tooth colored bumps that are bonded to teeth) allow for added control. 

So are we there yet? Although it’s come along way, studies have shown that Invisalign still lacks the control that braces offer with certain tooth movements, as well as cases with higher complexity. For example, moving roots is very difficult to do with the plastic trays. This is the kind of tooth movement that would be required in an extraction case where the roots need to move to close extraction spaces. We don’t have to worry about the predictability with wires and brackets. As you already know, braces are stuck to your teeth, so you don’t have a choice. With clear aligners, you are responsible for keeping the clear trays in (for 22 hours each day I might add).

On the other hand, clear aligners allow us to digitally move teeth and even avoid moving certain teeth. For example, if a patient wants to straighten their front teeth and has a great bite in their back teeth we can maintain them that way. That is much harder to do with braces where the outcome is not precisely controlled by a sophisticated computer software and almost all teeth get a bracket. What I really like about clear aligners is the fact that patients can much better floss and brush as they are removeable. 

In summary, braces and clear aligners both have their own pros and cons. Not every patient is a candidate for clear aligners. In patients that are good candidates, Invisalign® works wonderfully. If you have a very complex case don’t worry, though! We can still predictably treat complex cases with a short phase of braces to work out the tough tooth movements, then finish with clear aligners. You get the best of both worlds!

For more information on Invisalgn®, click here, or call our office to schedule a free evaluation! 563-556-2353

-Dr. E