Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My Daughter's Orthodontics - Three Year Update

I've received a few requests lately to post an update on my daughter's journey with her orthodontic treatment.  

My daughter, Alina, is almost 10 years old, and she's been using an orthodontic appliance for nearly 3 years. We started Alina's orthodontic treatment early so that we could make the most of her growing years. Rather than using braces, which are well known to not work very well in the long-term, we are using an orthodontic appliance designed to stimulate the palate and jaw to grow larger.

Despite a nutrient-dense diet, Alina's palate and jaw did not naturally develop large enough to accommodate her adult teeth. After researching alternatives to braces and talking with an excellent pediatric dentist who specializes in developmental orthodontics, we decided to use a plastic myofunctional appliance made by Ortho-Tain.

How Alina Uses Her Orthodontic Appliance

Alina wears her Ortho-Tain orthodontic appliance every night while she sleeps. Because we started her treatment early, she does not need to wear the appliance during the daytime at all (whereas if we had waited a few more years before starting, she would have needed to wear it at night as well as for a few hours in the daytime).  Alina tries to remember to bite down hard on her appliance a few times whenever she puts it in her mouth, to strengthen the muscles in her mouth and jaw and further encourage her palate to enlarge.

Alina has been very cooperative with this whole process and has done a fantastic job of wearing her appliance. Her orthodontist is very pleased with her progress and gives her all the credit for being the one to do the work of wearing the appliance and following his instructions.

Our Results From Three Years of Treatment

Over the course of her orthodontic treatment, Alina has progressed through three sizes of orthodontic appliance. This means that her palate and jaw have grown significantly so that she was able to progress to increasingly larger appliances. Currently, Alina has lost 8 baby teeth.  Based on the size of her adult teeth, the appliance Alina is currently using may be the last one she needs (but we will know more when she loses more of her baby teeth).

And now for the pictures!

Pre-treatment (April 2014) - Alina's baby teeth have no space between them (minus the one spot where she is missing a tooth)

February 2017 - Her beautiful smile, after almost 3 years of orthodontic treatment

There is more space for her adult teeth on the bottom now compared to in the last update I posted
There is plenty of room for all of her adult teeth thus far

For information about our journey into orthodontic care, check out the rest of the articles in this series:  


Have you tried any alternatives to conventional orthodontics? What were your results?


Unknown said...

I looked into this for my daughter who is 6. I liked the orthodontist we visited, but he said he wouldn't be able to determine whether this would work for her until she lost more baby teeth (she has lost 6) and until she was more comfortable with dental office visits. I was wanting to start soon, but looks like we will have to wait a bit longer.

Sarah Smith said...

I would highly recommend that you obtain a second opinion. One of the beauties of this approach is that it actually works even better if it is started early. My daughter's treatment was started when she had lost only 1 or 2 baby teeth (I can't recall which).

If it helps, perhaps you could find someone else to consult with here:

Unknown said...

Thank you! I did look at that link, which is where I found the orthodontist we visited. He's the closest one in our area, and he's an hour away. I don't think I have any other options. He was very easy to talk to and gave me some good reasons why we should wait a bit (it was a while ago so I can't remember everything he said, but it made sense at the time). I did tell him I had heard that the earlier, the better though. The other issue is that my daughter was very anxious at his office (same with all dental visits) and was not cooperating and wouldn't even let him get a good look in her mouth. He said it would be better to wait until she's more comfortable before he can really do much. He said to stop in any time to try again and see if she's getting closer to needing them, so I guess we'll just keep in touch with him.

Sarah Smith said...

Does your daughter behave much differently at the dentist than usually? If her high anxiety at the dentist is out-of-the-norm for her, it is possible that a homeopathic remedy could help in easing her anxiety so that the dentist would be able to actually look in her mouth easier.

One reason I mentioned getting a second opinion was that, in our experience, some dentists who use Crozat or Myofunctional Appliances (and are registered on that same website) are not necessarily using those appliances the right way. Before we found the dentist we are using now, we consulted with an orthodontist who told me he could accomplish the same thing with braces that he could with a Crozat. That goes to show that he had a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and usage of the Crozat.

He also had a very poor demeanor when it came to interacting with out daughter. He basically treated her as a non-feeling entity, and did not try to do anything at all to make her feel comfortable before trying to look in her mouth. He didn't even talk to her at all; just grabbed her jaw and started manipulating her mouth. My daughter was stiff-as-a-board with him, and obviously very uncomfortable.

In contrast, the dentist we are using now spent a few minutes to actually talk with my daughter first, engaging her in a discussion about her favorite animals, etc.

I'm not saying that you're necessarily going to find someone as accessible as our dentist, but just mentioning our experience in case it helps in assessing the dentist you visited.

Unknown said...

Thank you, that does help! This orthodontist was very friendly with both her and myself, and I got a good feeling about the whole office. He seemed to have a lot of experience using the devices, but a second opinion would be helpful.

She does act that way at all dentist appointments. She had a bad first experience as a toddler at the dentist, and that kind of ruined it. I did give her some Orange Essential oil at our last dentist appointment but it didn't seem to help. But, there might have been too long of a gap between when I rubbed it on her at home, and her appointment. I'd be interested to hear more about the homeopathic idea.

Sarah Smith said...

Can you tell me more about what she's like at the dentist? Is it anxiety, or fear, or both? What is her body language like, and how does she behave while there?

mary said...

Sarah, is there a doctor local to Las Cruces? Or even ABQ? My daughter is now 7 and dentist told me to start saving for braces. Ugh. Would like to look into this as an alternative. Thanks!

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Mary,
Good to hear from you! The dentist we are using is in Albuquerque. Dr. Stanley Hess. He has been amazing and we have really liked working with him. There is one other orthodontist in Albuquerque that we consulted with, but his bedside manner was abrupt and rude plus he obviously didn't really understand the proper use of these types of appliances.

I think I remember someone saying recently there was someone in Las Cruces who might do something similar. Since we already paid Dr. Hess, I didn't look much into it, but I'll see what I can find out.

Unknown said...

Hi Sarah, I think it's more anxiety. She puts her face into my shirt or body and turns herself away from the dentist, towards me. She is defiant, stubborn, crying, yelling "no, I don't want to!" when they want to look into her mouth. She is normally a pretty easy going kid, but she has a real aversion to doctor visits, and especially the dentist. She just really doesn't like anyone doing things that bother her, especially physically. She (and her twin sister) were preemies, born at 30 weeks, and they had a lot of medical intervention from an early age, so I'm thinking that probably has something to do with it. She's holding onto some negative experiences.

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Christine,
Okay, here are a few links for you to look st, to see if any of the remedies listed seems to match fairly well for your daughter's anxiety. In looking at these, it is not important if there are some things listed for any particular remedy that don't apply to your daughter. Rather, it is more important that they seem to cover the symptoms she does exhibit, and don't worry about any that don't apply.

If it were me, I would pick whichever one seems like the closest match and give a dose (one pellet) about an hour before the next doctor/dentist appointment, then watch to see if things are any better. If there is no obvious change, the next time I'd try whichever remedy seemed like the next closest match.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, but am just providing this info for educational use. :) Let me know if you have any questions.

Sarah Smith said...

I did some digging, and it sounds like Dr. Hayes at Ben Archer might do something similar to the orthodontic option my daughter is using.

Kelly P said...

Does your daughter have to wear the Ortho-Tain appliance and have the crozart put in? I was looking at the orthodontic website you linked in the comments and didn't see a reference to the Ortho-Tain. Also, do we have to get referred to an orthodontist by a dentist or can we just make an appt with one on our own?

Thank you!!

Unknown said...

Thank you, that is helpful! I'll give it a try!

mary said...

Hi Sarah, thanks so much for the scoop. I'll have to check him/her out. Mary

Elizabeth said...

I am having trouble finding someone in North Carolina who uses these kinds of orthodontic devices. Even using the Myobrace "Find Practitioner" tool I am coming up with no one in North Carolina. I'm not sure what to do. I have a 5 year old who has lost two teeth already and a couple more loose. I know I have a little time, but I'd like to have someone lined up soon.


Sarah Smith said...

Kelly P: No, my daughter is not using a Crozat. Only the Ortho-Tain. When I was originally researching alternatives, the Crozat was what I was able to find the most information about, and I *thought* we'd end up using a Crozat. However, when we met with my daughter's dentist, he was able to give us information about using Ortho-Tain as well, and especially since we live over 200 miles from him, we decided to use Ortho-Tain instead of Crozat.

We didn't have to have a referral to make an appt with the dentist who we ended up liking and using (and we also didn't need a referral for the orthodontist who we ended up not liking at all).

I hope this helps!

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Elizabeth,
It looks like you may be able to find someone in North Carolina using Lightwire orthodontics (which are trying to accomplish the same thing as the Crozat or Ortho-Tain). Try this link:

I hope this helps!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Sarah. I did look at Lightwire awhile ago and that practitioner is 4 hours away! It's crazy how hard it is to find people who are doing this work!

Laurie Paul said...

Great job Alina!! You have a wonderful set of teeth to go with your beautiful smile.

Jess said...

Thank you for posting this information! My question is: Once you're an adult can you use this type of orthodontic treatment? I had braces, but you'd never be able to tell because I stopped wearing my retainer and everything crowded back :( Am I too old now (38 years)? Thanks!

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Jess,
I don't know a lot about it, but my understanding is that, yes, adults can use this type of appliance too. I think, though, that because the body is already done growing, the appliance would probably be needed to worn indefinitely (at night while asleep) to prevent orthodontic relapse.

Heather said...

Hi, the results are amazing!! I would like to note that alternative treatments are possible for adults as well. Many adults are trying to expand their palates because of too narrow and small modern jaws. I have very small cramped sinuses, life long sinus and ear problems, always stuffed up, years of open mouth breathing. I was told surgery would be my best option PLUS braces. The mainstream notion is that your jaw stops growing, so not much that can be done. It's ideal to start young, but we don't all have that option or parents who can afford it. I am glad my mom always said no because my teeth are very strong and almost no cavities in over 40 years, but wish she had known about alternatives such as functional orthodontics. Slow changes will help the jaw grow and change. Of course our bones continue to grow. If osteoporosis can be healed with new bone growth after better exercise and nutrition, so can your jaw! I am looking into something like this or crozat to fix an open cross bite and definitely narrow palate. The struggle is finding the right practitioners in your area. It is more difficult in Canada. My niece is going the conventional route and has had so many teeth removed already. Her jaw is becoming very long and narrow,. I also know many adults who had braces as kids, but their teeth are in rough shape because of relapse, very narrow jaws, too many cavities from wearing all the glues and metal and dreadful long term consequences is root death or Aformation(damage in the area sometimes causes the bone cells to destroy the root part of the tooth, not just the roots) later in life because of too much force on the tooth. That will require root canals, or expensive tooth removal and implants.

Unknown said...

Elizabeth: I am also in North Carolina looking for a similar treatment for my almost 5 year old son. Maybe we can connect and share resources? We started myobrace treatment (with ALF as a possibility down the road) with Smiles of Cary and Dr. Charles Ferzli but had a pretty bad experience there and I'm very hesistant to go back. We are in Raleigh - where are you located? I think I know the other practitioner that is 4 hours away from here you mentioned. Thanks!