Interceptive Orthodontics & Orthopedics (appliances and space maintainers)

Though some may use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between orthopedics and orthodontics.

Orthopedics is typically the first step in the process of remedying maloccluded (e.g. crowded or improperly aligned) teeth in children—and in some cases, the right orthopedic treatment can actually negate the need for orthodontic treatment entirely. Functional orthopedics are typically short-term, removable therapies—like retainers or similar devices—aimed at promoting appropriate facial growth and jaw structure. Orthopedics deal with both genetic malocclusion and the much more common environmental malocclusion –related to parafunctional habits(sucking, biting, thrusting),  incorrect tongue position, allergies, airway restrictions due to enlarged tongue, tonsils and adenoids, or even mouth breathing. 

Early orthopedic treatment can increase the chances for normal development, and can also discourage potentially destructive behaviors (like mouth breathing) before they turn into habits or have a negative influence on other aspects of your child’s life, like their sleep.

Orthodontics, on the other hand, typically involves bonding braces to the teeth as a way to gradually move the tooth into a straighter, less crowded pattern. Unlike orthopedics, orthodontic devices are semi-permanent and may need to be work for months or years to achieve the desired result.


 

Habit Appliance


A habit appliance is useful to help stop a thumb or finger habit and/or to help re-train an improper tongue position or swallowing pattern. It is sometimes necessary to place an appliance to minimize the harm and distortion the habits or tongue posture can have on teeth. Most habit appliances are fixed in place to the back permanent molars and are not removed until the habit has completely been resolved.


Space Maintenance


Space maintainers are used to keep teeth from drifting into an empty tooth space due to early loss of primary (baby) teeth. Baby teeth act as a guide for the eruption of and as place holders for the permanent teeth. A space maintainer is made of stainless steel bands and some type of heavy guage wire. It can be removable or fixed to the teeth with a fluoride releasing cement. They can limit the time and/or likelihood of your orthodontics for your child as well as unnecessary extractions of impacted permanent teeth.