early orthodontics little girl smiling with growth modification appliance

Early Orthodontics

Setting Your Little One Up For A Lifetime Of Healthy Smiles

While adolescence is the most popular time for patients to get braces, in some cases, orthodontic treatment should start sooner. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, you should first take your child to an orthodontist for an evaluation at age 7. At age 7, your child’s permanent teeth have most likely started to come in with some baby teeth remaining. This is the best time for an orthodontist to determine whether your child is a good candidate for early orthodontics, also known as early interceptive treatment or Phase 1 treatment.

“We are very proud of our Phase I appliance (Growth


Modifying Appliance) which helps in the creation of the “Clemente Smile”. It creates broad beautiful smiles, which
is what we are known for.”


The goal of early orthodontics is to expand your child’s jaw, make room for erupting permanent teeth, prevent the extraction of permanent teeth and make further orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign, go more smoothly. Clemente Orthodontics takes a unique and conservative approach to early orthodontics with the Growth Modifying Appliance (GMA). This removable appliance helps expand your child’s upper jaw for a broad arch and natural-looking smile without causing significant discomfort.

Why Early

Some orthodontic patients do not need to get braces, Invisalign® or another appliance until adolescence after all of their permanent teeth have erupted. Others may start to show signs of orthodontic problems early on—such as significant crowding, bite misalignment or jaw pain. In these cases, early orthodontics may be recommended. Early orthodontics can help:

  • Make room for erupting permanent teeth

  • Prevent permanent tooth extraction

  • Make braces, Invisalign and other “Phase 2” treatments go more smoothly

  • Reduce your child’s risk for TMJ disorders

  • Prevent more severe orthodontic issues in the future

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What is the Growth Modifying Appliance (GMA)?

While each patient is different, the main goal of early orthodontics is to expand the palate to make room for erupting permanent teeth. Many orthodontists achieve this by using a cemented-in device such as a palatal expander. While palatal expanders can correct jaw misalignment and prepare patients for Phase 2 treatment, we believe that slow growth modification is far more stable, superior and effective. Our signature Growth Modifying Appliance is a removable device that sits on the roof of the mouth. Using gentle pressure over time, the GMA gently expands the palate in all directions. Most patients will wear the GMA for 1 to 3 years, depending on their specific needs. The GMA comes in 30 assorted colors, and can be removed while brushing, flossing and eating.


The Growth Modifying Appliance (GMA) has many benefits over fixed, palatal expanders for more gradual, comprehensive and comfortable expansion.

Palatal Expander

  • Cemented to teeth

  • Moves teeth while splitting and separating the palate

  • Corrects in transverse direction only (right to left)

  • Difficult adjustments—parent is responsible to turn the key while the appliance is in the mouth

  • Oral hygiene is difficult to maintain

  • No colors or personalization

  • Adjustments can be painful

  • The rapid force of the expander can damage the roots of teeth

Growth Modifying Appliances (GMA)

  • Removable

  • Stimulates the entire palate to grow, creating more room for permanent teeth to erupt

  • Corrects the palate in all three planes of space—transverse (right to left), sagittal (front to back) and vertical (up and down)

  • Makes adjustments independently and gradually

  • Easy to keep clean

  • Available in 30 assorted colors

  • Little to no pain or discomfort

  • The applied force is gentle and gradual, which makes the growth process more stable and prevents root damage