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How We Make Space

Dental Arch Development

We develop the required space for the teeth to erupt by widening or lengthening the jaws instead of extracting teeth whenever possible. Jaw width naturally develops as the tongue pushes outward each time we swallow (about 2000 times per day). This is met by the resistance of the cheeks. The ultimate width of the jaws is determined by the balance point between these two forces.

Anything that causes these forces to be unbalanced will result in an arch that is either too wide or too narrow resulting in spacing or crowding respectively (see habits). Most commonly the jaws are too narrow and crowded. The width of the jaws can be developed with an appliance that looks similar to an orthodontic retainer except it has a screw that widens the two halves as it is activated. This Schwarz appliance mimics the force that the tongue naturally provides to widen the upper jaw and create space to align the incisors.

Ideally arch development should be done before the incisors erupt so that they have a chance to erupt into alignment. This reduces the likelihood that the incisors will relapse to their crowded positions. As can be seen in the first case below, this was not possible, so the teeth were aligned with braces after arch development. In the second case below, the dental arch was widened as the incisors were erupting.

Case 1

Press on the play button for an animation showing how the arch widens and the incisors align. Observe how the distance between the last molars increase.

Case 2

This appliance helps to develop space for the teeth to align.

Notice the widening split in the appliance as it is activated.

Without the appliances.

There is now enough space to guide the incisors into proper alignment.

The front teeth are aligned following only two months of braces.