Perhaps when you were younger, getting braces was an inevitable part of becoming a teenager, sort of like a rite of passage into adulthood.

So now that you’ve got kids of your own, that means they’ll almost certainly have to have braces too, right? Not necessarily. You can actually prevent your child’s need for braces right here in Houston, TX, with HealthyStart — a state-of-the-art treatment for kids that straightens smiles while improving sleeptime breathing.

Dr. Juarez began using HealthyStart with her own kids, as a way to curb the need for future orthodontic work, and the team at Houston Uptown Dentists is proud to offer this innovative preventive treatment to your family as well. Take a look at how HealthyStart can help your child, and give us a call at 832-463-1021 to schedule an appointment.

Can you really prevent the need for braces?

Yes! Orthodontic treatments, like traditional braces, seek to correct crooked teeth and misaligned bites — issues that stem from development of the mouth and habits early in life, like thumb sucking or the position of a child’s tongue while sleeping. HealthyStart aims to intervene while your child’s mouth and oral habits are still developing.

By the time a child is 2 years old, we can fairly accurately predict what issues with bite alignment will remain or worsen by the time he or she is 12 years old, when jaw development is largely complete and the fibers holding adult teeth into place have matured. This includes:

  • Overjet. With overjet, a child’s upper front teeth are pushed outward. Pacifier use or thumb sucking can contribute to overjet by pushing the the teeth forward, which can affect the shape of the upper palate.
  • Overbite. When the upper front teeth reach too far over the lower front teeth, this is called excessive overbite.
  • Crossbite. Crossbite occurs when any of the upper teeth are positioned on the wrong side of the lower teeth.
  • Crowding. As the name suggests, crowding occurs when there’s too little room for teeth.

By doing something about it early, we can correct these issues gradually and gently. We suggest that parents interested in HealthyStart schedule an exam with us by the time their child is 2 years old, but if your child is preschool-aged or older, there’s likely still time to start treatment.

Give Houston Uptown Dentists a call today at 832-463-1021 to schedule an appointment for your little one.

How does HealthyStart work?

The HealthyStart system uses a series of appliances that resemble athletic mouthguards, which the child wears while he or she sleeps and in some cases during the day. Many children using HealthyStart go through three stages of treatment, each with a different appliance, to correct certain aspects of their bite.

Here’s an example of what treatment commonly looks like.

  • Habit-Correcting Phase. For the first one to five months of treatment, your child will wear the appliance every night to correct oral habits that can damage a child’s dental health.
  • Second Phase. For the next two to six months, your child will wear a custom-made device every night that helps guide developing teeth into place and corrects jaw placement. It also expands your child’s dental arches — the arch-shape arrangements of the upper and lower teeth — to make sure there’s plenty of room for permanent teeth.
  • Final Phase. The last stage of treatment begins when your child has at least four permanent teeth and aims to ensure permanent teeth are aligning properly.

And here’s some great news: Of the 3 million kids around the world who have used HealthyStart, less than 7 percent require braces later in life. Even for those who need braces, orthodontic treatment generally lasts only two to four months, as opposed to years, and is usually only needed to correct minor tooth rotation.

Is HealthyStart painful?

While it may take some time to get used to the habit-correcting appliance — particularly if nighttime mouth breathing is an issue for your child — the device is soft and comfortable.

Some children report minor discomfort or soreness in the first few days of treatment, so we might recommend gradually introducing it to your child over the course of a few days. After that, discomfort is rarely an issue.

What are the other benefits of Healthy Start?

HealthyStart effectively addresses some of the issues associated with Sleep Disordered Breathing, which is when certain things about your child’s breathing — like snoring and mouth breathing — are disruptive to their sleep.

These disruptions cause your child to sleep less and more lightly, which can contribute to issues like bed-wetting and behavioral challenges that seem like ADD or ADHD.

By promoting proper placement and growth of the jaw and airway, HealthyStart helps kids learn how to properly breathe while they’re asleep so they can experience deeper, higher-quality sleep. Some parents notice that HealthyStart allows their child to be better focused in school and in some cases, decreases instances of bed-wetting and challenging behaviors.

If you’ve noticed irregularities in your child’s breathing while he or she is asleep, schedule an appointment at Houston Uptown Dentists by calling 832-463-1021 or filling out our online form. Our team will work with you to determine whether HealthyStart can improve your child’s sleep, smile and overall health.