Perhaps every element of this title sounds frightening or difficult to imagine. However, treatment using a face mask can have amazing, lifelong results.
Only children age 7-10 (or maybe 11, depending on their physical development) are candidates for face mask treatment. This is because use of the face mask as instructed by your orthodontist has an orthopedic effect, meaning that it changes the growth of the upper jaw. In order to have maximum change, growth modification treatments (headgear) must be done during a child’s peak of growth for the specific bones being targeted. In the case of headgear, growth of the bones of the upper jaw, or maxilla, are being targeted. Generally, children older than 10 are past the time of peak growth for their upper jaws, so face mask therapy is not indicated past that point. It also so happens that children in this age range tend to be less self conscious and more compliant (before those teenage years!), so they more readily accept treatment with the right parental support. Don’t worry: the face mask never has to be worn to school!
Patients who have a family history of having a flat or retrusive upper jaw or a strong/protrusive lower jaw are candidates. Children who have inherited this trait already show a tendency for this type of skeletal structure between the ages of 7 and 10. Doctors Abdoney and Cronauer have had specialty training on how to diagnose this type of growth using a cephalometric x-ray, which is taken at the office. Untreated, these growth traits often create severe bite problems, some of which can only be corrected through jaw surgery if they are corrected later in life.
Promoting the forward growth of the upper jaw in children who have a tendency for excessive lower jaw growth or insufficient forward growth of the upper jaw is the ideal long term treatment for these issues. However, these types of jaw growth problems are unpredictable in their severity. Fortunately, the likelihood for requiring surgery for this correction is reduced with successful face mask treatment. This doesn’t mean that the future need for surgery is eliminated, but rather that all possible efforts to prevent the need for surgery have been explored.