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Most people associate orthodontics with braces and other appliances that move teeth. It is true that moving teeth to optimal esthetic and functional positions is always a goal of orthodontic treatment, but in patients who still have growth remaining – i.e., children and young teens –, it is also possible to optimize the relationship between the jaws without the need for invasive procedures such as surgery.
When treatment aims at optimizing the jaw relationship through the use of simple approaches that take advantage of remaining growth potential, this is called ‘orthopedics’. Hence the full name of the orthodontic specialty, Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics.
Examples of common orthopedic corrections include promoting growth in width of a narrow upper jaw and promoting growth in length of a small lower jaw.
Simple, noninvasive treatment of a young person with an orthopedic problem provides many benefits:
For a simple orthopedic treatment to be successful, a patient must have significant growth potential remaining. Depending on the type of orthopedic problem, the optimal timing for correction may vary between the ages of 6 and 14. Signs of developing orthopedic problems can be subtle at a young age, and since these problems can no longer be corrected through simple approaches after adolescence, early screening with an orthodontist no later than the age of 7 is recommended for all patients.
Once growth is completed, simple orthopedic treatment is no longer possible, but the same benefits can still be achieved via surgical procedures.
Signs and symptoms of developing problems that are best handled through orthopedics can be subtle. It is therefore important that a proper diagnosis be made by an orthodontist to determine if orthopedic care is in fact indicated. Indications for orthopedic care include:
The success rate of orthopedic correction is very high in most children and young teens. At the initial consultation appointment, Dr. Côté will be able to determine if your child is a candidate for excellent results through orthopedic care in Gatineau, Hull and Alymer.