We’re a multi-specialty practice with a variety of dental specialists under one roof. This means most of our patients are able to receive all of their dental care in-house without referrals. Your child can keep up with their cleanings and exams, receive a root canal (we hope not!), and undergo their whole orthodontic process (if needed) right here. From Phase 1 interceptive orthodontics to braces or Invisalign® Teen to habit appliances, Soul Dental Kids can be your pediatric orthodontist in NYC.
Thumb sucking is a common part of childhood, and most kids who do it stop on their own. Another portion of children are able to leave the habit behind with some coaxing from caregivers. And a third group needs more help in the form of a habit appliance. This is a small stainless-steel orthodontic appliance that is attached by metal bands to two upper molars and creates a barrier near the palate to help break the habit.
Thumb-sucking can cause changes in the shape of the palate as it forms but has the most detrimental effect when permanent teeth begin to erupt. At this point, it can begin to influence the alignment of your child’s teeth and the growth of their jaw. We consider habit appliances a last resort, because it is better than the alternative of misaligned teeth or an open bite. If we recommend a habit appliance, it is in hopes of helping your child avoid braces and other, longer-term orthodontia later.
Also called Phase 1, interceptive orthodontics is meant to guide your child’s growth in a way that facilitates healthy adult teeth. Expanding an underdeveloped maxilla to create space, moving primary teeth to create a clear path for aligned adult teeth, and holding space after a primary molar is lost prematurely are all examples of interceptive treatments. This early orthodontic work can help your child avoid, or reduce the duration of, orthodontia in adolescence. Common interceptive treatments include:
- Palatal expansion
- Space maintainers
Palatal expanders are often the first stop for Phase 1 treatment. In the past, orthodontists used to address an underdeveloped maxilla (small upper jaw) by waiting until a child’s permanent teeth erupted, extracting some of those permanent teeth, and then placing braces to spread out the remaining teeth. No longer!
We’ve learned in more recent years, however, that a narrow upper jaw can contribute to other problems such as sleep disordered breathing and TMD. For this reason and others, orthodontists now prefer the less invasive method of expanding the maxilla to accommodate all of a child’s permanent teeth.
To expand a patient’s palate, we place a small appliance. The appliance has a key, which the child’s caregiver turns incrementally over a few weeks. This gently opens up the palate to create more space. It also often helps patients breathe better, because the roof of the mouth is also the floor of the sinuses!
We leave the expander appliance in place for a few months until new bone is formed, and the expansion “takes.” Children tolerate palatal expansion especially well because their bones are still very pliable.
Braces on baby teeth? Sort of—usually mixed dentition (some primary teeth and some permanent teeth). There are certain patterns, such as a partial crossbite, crowding, or flared front teeth due to thumb-sucking, that call for an early phase of braces. This phase, if it’s necessary, is typically around age 7 or 8, though every patient is different. Our specialists can talk with you in-depth about your child’s needs and options.
Primary teeth do sometimes leave children’s mouths before their time. That is to say, before a permanent tooth is on deck to take its place. When this occurs, there is a danger that the surrounding teeth will close together, and there won’t be space for the adult tooth when it’s ready to erupt. That’s where space maintainers come in! The size, shape, and mechanism will vary depending upon where in your child’s mouth the tooth is located.
Orthodontics for Adolescents (Phase 2)
Often called phase 2, adolescent orthodontics may begin sometime between ages 11 and 14. Once all of your child’s permanent teeth have come in, their dentition may call for this phase, which is more acutely focused on the positions and alignment of the teeth. Additionally, phase 2 orthodontics typically addresses bite discrepancies such as underbites, open bites, and overbites.
This go-to, traditional method of moving teeth is a mainstay for a reason—it’s reasonably priced, and it works! Braces work well for the vast majority of orthodontic “situations.” Attitudes among kids and teens toward this esthetic-improving treatment have changed over the generation since we parents were kids. Many youngsters are now -asking for- braces!
Adolescent braces can address the following issues and more:
- Diastema (gaps)
- Crooked teeth
- Misaligned jaw
- Open bite
The range of orthodontic problems that Invisalign can treat is a bit narrower than that of braces, but this gap shrinks each year as Invisalign’s technology improves. We will discuss with you whether your kiddo is a candidate for Invisalign and whether it’s a good choice for them. The primary factors that set this treatment apart from braces are:
- Your child must be diligent with hygiene, willing to brush and rinse as required.
- They must also be able and willing to wear their removable aligners for at least 22 hours per day.
- Invisalign is typically more costly than conventional braces.
- Some issues such as severe bite problems are better treated with braces than Invisalign.
The Soul Dental Kids Advantage
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontist visit by age 7. Soul Dental Kids can be your child’s general dentist and your pediatric orthodontist in NYC! If and when your little(s) need braces or other orthodontic care, we’ll be right here to help.