UPWard Orthodontic Services for Kids 3-12

Orthodontic Services for Kids 3-12

Serving Houghton since 2021, helping patients of all ages since 1998.

Maximization of healthy growth and development

“We treat the people attached to the teeth!”

Have you ever heard the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It means that taking care of something before it becomes a problem is better than trying to remedy it after it becomes a problem, and this is especially true regarding orthodontics for kids.

At UPWard Ortho, Dr. Darin and his team focus on wellness and prevention programs to maximize children’s jaw growth and facial development. This unique approach to orthodontics is highly specialized and focused on preventing invasive procedures in the future – preventing braces, extractions, headgear and surgery.

  • The growth and development from ages 3-12 is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to maximize healthy facial growth.
  • Growth and development of the face (below the nose) is mostly determined by “environment”, specifically by oral rest posture (eg breathing through the nose, not the mouth).
  • This fundamental aspect of development is simple unto itself, but it’s not simple for kids to develop the proper habits that support rest oral posture. It won’t happen by accident, and requires attention.

Below, learn more about:

  • Early orthodontic prevention (Ages 1-6)
    • Orthotropics™
    • Oral Rest Posture
  • Interceptive orthodontics (Ages 6-12)
    • Crozat and ALF Therapy
    • Expanders
What you can expect from your personalized treatment plan, and your first appointment:

Early orthodontic prevention (ages 1-6)

Why Start Early?

It’s about the jaws (not the teeth!) and maximizing the genetic potential of the individual’s growth and development of the face. Because we only have one shot at proper facial growth, and once its done, there are no non-invasive ways to reverse less than ideal growth and development. Waiting to begin treatment for orthodontic problems can mean years of braces and invasive procedures. It can also mean eating, breathing and speech problems; impaired cognitive development; stunted growth; and severe implications for overall health.

Early orthodontic prevention (before age 6) is not just about achieving a beautiful smile; it’s about establishing the foundation for a lifetime of optimal jaw health, improved facial appearance, proper breathing and excellent overall health by helping to guide the growth and development of their face, jaws, and teeth.

Never Too Early?

Early intervention is critical to overall health. In fact, we work with expectant mothers on their diets, because teeth begin developing in the fetus. We work with allied health care clinicians to identify nursing babies with tongue ties, which can negatively affect jaw growth, nursing and speech development. And we work with children under the age of 5 whose adult teeth are far from erupting. Starting early has more significant benefits than waiting to treat because it is much easier to guide growth than remodel it.


Orthotropics ™ is an orthodontic approach to guiding jaw and facial growth to develop a beautiful and healthy smile. When the jaw or midface does not properly develop, you may see crowded teeth, crooked teeth, buck teeth, deep overbites, crossbites and underbites. While braces may be part of your child’s personalized treatment plan, Dr. Ward strives to provide a broad approach to lifetime wellness through his practice of Orthotropics ™ and airway maximization. The goal of this treatment is positive jaw growth, which is defined as horizontal growth of the jaw. This results in a balanced face and strong jawline, as opposed to vertical growth of the jaw, which results in a longer face and weak jawline. Dr. Darin provides Orthotropics ™ treatment for children between 3 and 16 years of age.

Oral Rest Posture | Why Does It Matter?

Often, the root cause of teeth and jaw problems is poor oral rest posture. Poor oral rest posture frequently is a consequence of an airway problem and is also common in individuals who are primary mouth breathers versus nasal breathers. Signs of poor oral rest posture include “gummy” smiles, red and inflamed gums, dark circles under the eyes, forward head posture, snoring, bedwetting, tooth grinding, difficulty or inability to focus, irritability, hyperactivity, or other behavior disorders.

What is Proper Oral Rest Posture?

Proper oral rest posture means that when the tongue is at rest, it touches the roof of the mouth, the upper and lower teeth touch or might be slightly apart, and the lips easily come together without effort. When proper oral rest posture is achieved, the face is balanced, as are the tongue and the cheeks. Proper oral rest posture also means improving general body posture, breathing and oral functions such as chewing, speaking and swallowing. Postural orthodontic treatment can help your child breathe, sleep, feel and look better for a lifetime! We utilize the GOPex system with all our patients to help them develop proper rest oral posture to maximize growth and development in growing individuals, and to improve the breathing physiology and postural habits in all our pateints, growers and non-growers alike!

Interceptive orthodontics (Ages 6-12)

Interceptive Arch Development

Underdeveloped arches are very common in children and are typically caused by incorrect tongue function and breathing through the mouth instead of the nose. UPWard Orthodontic’s interceptive arch development approach offers non-traditional appliances to help develop arches, promote the movement of bones, and create a more balanced face and a healthy smile.

Crozat and ALF Therapy

Crozat and ALF therapy are an alternative way to address the fundamental causes of crooked teeth. They use light, flexible wires to help remodel the growth of the upper jaw and help maximize facial development–without the need for teeth extractions. Crozat and ALF treatments allows for the nearly invisible development of the dental arches to make room for permanent teeth and avoid painful extractions. The lightweight force of Crozat appliances are far gentler, more physiological and less bulky than acrylic “jack-screw” appliances that rapidly expand the palate. Since they are removable, Crozat and ALF appliances allow for better oral hygiene for both adults and children. Ideally, Crozat and ALF appliances are used in children as a phase I appliance to make room for teeth, and in adolescent and adult cases where arch width is needed and can be used in conjunction with braces or with clear aligners.


When children have a crossbite or overcrowding in their upper jaw, an expander may be recommended. An expander is common in early orthodontic treatment and is used to widen the upper jaw, stimulate bone growth and make way for adult teeth. We prefer to use removable expanders so they can be taken out when the teeth are cleaned. Expanders work by slowly widening the jaw over time with the turn of a small screw on a scheduled protocol.