At Eastern Suburbs Orthodontics, we offer a holistic approach to early treatment in children with a focus on airways and facial development. It is our aim to provide growing patients with the most beneficial treatment at the ideal time.
We recommend an assessment of your child by our specialist orthodontist from the age of eight years before all the adult teeth have emerged. It is at this age in children that the facial template for adulthood can be determined.
Early treatment can have significant physical and psychological benefits for growing patients. The aim of treatment is to balance the facial structure during growth and to improve the quality of sleep.
Contributing factors to poor sleep quality include:
- narrow upper jaw and airway
- set back upper or lower jaw
- tooth grinding
- mouth breathing
These factors affect growth and cognitive development (learning, thinking and memory) and can contribute to attention deficit, behavioural and learning difficulties.
Early treatment removes the physical and biological barriers of breathing, which improves sleep quality, facial structure and enables children to reach their genetic growth potential. If treatment during the growth period is not performed, treatment in adulthood may be compromised or require invasive surgical procedures.
Generally, early treatment is performed with a plate to treat the face in primary school and braces to treat the teeth in late primary or early high school.
The benefit of early treatment in growing children is an improvement in sleep quality, cognitive, facial and dental development which produces favourable and predictable outcomes.
Growth Modification Appliances
Specialist orthodontists recognise the benefit of guiding the jaws into the correct position during growth and development.
When the upper and lower jaws match in size, shape and alignment, the result is:
- A pleasing profile
- A full and balanced smile
- A harmonious dental system
- improved breathing patterns
While not all children will require early treatment, many who have a narrow palate, underdeveloped jaws, or the potential for overcrowding, may be of benefit.
Two of the most common growth modification appliances are functional and expansion appliances.
Functional Appliance Therapy
This appliance is prescribed when a child has a set back lower jaw. Functional appliances are designed to redirect and encourage forward growth in the lower jaw to improve facial harmony and balance. Used at the appropriate stage of growth and development this appliance activates the muscles of the face to gently and gradually stimulate growth.
By bringing the lower jaw forward, the tongue is repositioned, which opens the lower airway resulting in long-term benefits relating to snoring and sleep apnoea.
Simultaneously, this appliance can also enhance the quality of a child’s sleep due to its protective nature of separating the teeth. This reduces the amount of force applied to the delicate head and neck muscles generated by nocturnal bruxism (clenching and grinding of the teeth).
Aligning the two jaws with functional appliance therapy can minimise the need for extractions during orthodontic treatment with braces.
Expansion Appliance Therapy
An expansion appliance is used when the upper jaw/palate is narrow and deficient, which can result in the following:
- constriction of upper airways
- snoring, mouth breathing
- compressed/hidden smile
Used at the appropriate time this appliance will gently develop the upper jaw, improve the bite relationship, increase the nasal airway volume, while simultaneously minimising the need for orthodontic extractions (removal of teeth) by creating space and a broader smile.
Orthodontically addressing the growth and development of a child’s jaw/palate can also improve breathing by increasing the airway space in the nose and reducing the detrimental impacts of obstructive sleep apnoea.
An improvement in breathing, snoring and quality of sleep can be gained during the early stages of treatment.
We Welcome Your Call
Communication and treatment planning are pivotal to provide families with valuable information and resources to gain confidence in the course of their child’s treatment.
If you have any further questions or would like to book a consultation, please call our practice to schedule an appointment. No referral is required.