A major benefit of receiving orthodontic treatment in childhood is that it’s possible to take full advantage of a child’s own natural growth process to treat or even prevent malocclusions (“bad bites”).
Palatal expanders create more space in a child’s mouth by gradually widening the upper jaw. Although this may sound scary, it’s really quite easy — both to do and to tolerate. That’s because the upper jaw (maxilla) actually develops as two separate halves that don’t completely fuse together until sometime after puberty. Before that happens, the two bones can gently be separated and stabilized over a period of several months.
The three situations that most commonly call for maxillary expansion are:
- Impacted Teeth
Fixed Palatal Crib
A Herbst Appliance corrects orthodontic issues cause by uneven jaw development. This appliance uses gentle force over time to promote growth in the lower jaw while simultaneously slowing down the development of the upper jaw. In turn, this will help children develop a better bite overall. While traditional braces are exceptional at straightening teeth, some children have bite problems that are due to their upper and lower jaws growing at different rates. This appliance is usually recommended to children at ages 11 or 12, but some as young as age eight or nine have had this applied to help re-position the front teeth.
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