Dentofacial Orthopedics In New York City (NYC)
One important component of creating the perfect smile involves the movement and realignment of your teeth. This is what we do with devices such as braces or Invisalign. However, teeth straightening isn’t the only factor that affects your smile: your actual jaw bones play a large role, as well.
For some patients, the jaw bones need to be influenced in order to achieve the optimal smile. This allows enough room for all the teeth. It also creates an overall bone shape that can facilitate proper tooth alignment.
Officially, the 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. Fortunately, Dr. Pliakas of Central Park Orthodontics is a specialist in both modalities, allowing him to get the best outcomes for his patients.
While several different types of appliances may be used in dentofacial orthopedics, the most common are palatal expanders (commonly known as “palate expanders”) and Herbst and MARA appliances (which have largely replaced headgears).
The hard palate is the bone that forms the roof of the mouth. During childhood, the hard palate is actually formed of two separate bones, one on each side of the mouth; the two halves fuse during adolescence. (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.)
Because the hard palate is made up of two separate bones in childhood, orthodontists have the greatest opportunity during this time to influence its eventual size and shape. 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 accomplishes this by using gentle pressure to spread the two halves of the hard palate away from each other. This causes 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, which otherwise can become necessary in some cases when there simply isn’t enough room for all of the teeth.
For the best results, the palatal expander is used on children around age 9 or 10. At this age, 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.
A common situation in dentofacial orthopedics is an “underbite.” This means that the lower jaw is too far back relative to the upper jaw, so the bite is not aligned. This can lead to functional as well as aesthetic problems. An underbite needs to be corrected by influencing the lower jaw to grow forward, often while simultaneously slowing the growth of the upper jaw until the lower jaw catches up.
In decades past, headgears were used to do this, but they were bulky and unsightly. As a result, patient compliance was usually low. Newer devices, such as the Herbst and MARA appliances, have now been developed. These are fixed into the mouth and act to pull the lower jaw forward, ensuring that the jaw develops with enough room for all of the teeth.
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 In New York City (NYC)
If your child needs to see an orthodontist, then it makes sense to choose a professional trained in both orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics on the Upper West Side. 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 New York City (NYC). You will see we offer 5-star rated orthodontic treatment to patients in Manhattan, including New York City (NYC), Upper West Side (UWS), Upper East Side (UES), Midtown West, Harlem, Morningside Heights, Chelsea, Columbus Circle and Washington Heights – and we do it with a smile!