Dentofacial Orthopedics On Upper West Side
Devices such as braces or Invisalign help create the perfect smile by moving and realigning of your teeth. However, teeth straightening isn’t the only factor that impacts your smile. Your actual jawbones play a large role, as well.
In order for some patients to achieve their best smile, their jawbones need to be modified to allow enough room for all the teeth. It also creates an overall bone shape that can facilitate proper tooth alignment.
Movement of the teeth is known as orthodontics, while the shaping of the jaw bones is known as dentofacial orthopedics. Not all orthodontists specialize in dentofacial orthopedics, but fortunately, Dr. Pliakas of Central Park Orthodontics is a specialist in both. This allows him to get the best outcomes for his patients.
Several different types of appliances may be used in dentofacial orthopedics, with the most common being palatal expanders (commonly known as “palate expanders”), and reverse pull headgear.
The Use of Palatal Expanders
The roof of your mouth is formed by a bone called the hard palate. During childhood, the hard palate is actually formed from two separate bones, one on each side of the mouth. During adolescence, these two halves fuse. (If you run your tongue along the roof of your mouth as an adult, you can feel the ridge in the center where this fusion happened.)
Orthodontists have the greatest opportunity during childhood to influence the mouth’s eventual size and shape because the hard palate is made up of two separate bones. Our Upper West Side dentofacial orthopedic specialist uses a palatal expander to cause the hard palate to become larger so that there’s enough room for all of the permanent teeth. The device achieves this by using gentle pressure to spread the two halves of the hard palate away from each other, causing more bone to grow in the center.
Using a palatal expander can create the room necessary to accommodate all of the teeth without crowding. This avoids the need for extracting permanent teeth. However, in some cases, it may be necessary when there isn’t enough room for all of the teeth.
For optimal results, the palatal expander is used on children around age 9 or 10 when the hard palate still has the greatest potential for growth. Using the device on teens or adults can still provide results, but this is generally not as effective as it would have been when the person was younger. This is part of the reason why it’s recommended that children be seen for an orthodontic evaluation around age 7.
Fixing an Underbite
A common situation in dentofacial orthopedics is an “underbite.” This means that the lower jaw is too far forward relative to the upper jaw, so the bite is not aligned. This can lead to functional as well as aesthetic problems. An underbite can often be corrected by influencing the upper jaw to grow forward.
One way we can correct an underbite is by using a palatal expander to increase the size of the upper jaw, which has a tendency to bring the upper jaw forward to align properly with the lower jaw. We may also use reverse pull headgear to modify the growth of the upper jaw. This type of headgear rests on the chin and forehead and pulls the upper jaw forward into a better position.
These appliances are most effective when used in children. With adults who have an underbite, the devices are generally not effective, because the bones are no longer growing. Instead, surgical correction of the bite is used.
5-Star-Rated Orthodontist for Dentofacial Orthopedics on Upper West Side
If your child needs to see an orthodontist, then it makes sense to choose a professional trained in both orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics in NYC. If you are an adult seeking treatment, then you should still be evaluated by a provider who can use all of the possible methods for achieving the best result. Dr. George Pliakas of Central Park Orthodontics received training in both modalities at some of the best programs in the country. Call our office at (212) 362-4400 or use our convenient online booking system here.
Come experience Central Park Orthodontics in the Upper West Side. You will see we offer 5-star rated orthodontic treatment to patients in NYC, including the Upper West Side (UWS), Upper East Side (UES), Manhattan, Midtown West, Harlem, Morningside Heights, Chelsea, Columbus Circle, and Washington Heights – and we do it with a smile!