Dentofacial orthopedics is the process of normalizing the growth of a patient's bone structure and repairing any imbalances of the face and jaws. This process often involves a two-phase treatment and often begins when the patient is around 7 or 8 years old. The practice of this specialty includes diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion and other abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures. Children are often the best candidates for receiving dentofacial orthopedic treatment. Beginning at a young age, your orthodontist will examine and monitor your child's growth to determine when treatment should begin and can be most effective. If your child begins orthodontic treatment before all adult teeth have erupted, it is known as phase-one treatment. During phase-one treatment, your orthodontist will use treatments designed to correct your child's jaw growth and make sure that the jawbone is properly aligned before beginning the second phase of treatment, which usually involves braces to straighten the teeth. Appliances are frequently used — the more familiar braces for orthodontics, and other specialized appliances like headgear and expanders depending on what facial abnormalities are present. Sometimes orthopedic treatment may precede conventional braces, but often the two are used at the same time. Dentofacial orthopedics is also used to treat adults, however, this process may involve surgery. Surgery may be used to adjust the jawbone and establish the proper bite alignment before beginning a braces treatment. With dentofacial orthopedics, adults can still achieve the beautiful smile they've always wanted.
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