Healthy Start Program

It’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s oral health, which is why we offer the Healthy Start™ System to our youngest patients.

The Healthy Start System uses a series of removable oral appliances to guide your child’s teeth and jaws into optimal alignment. We believe that there is a space in your child’s mouth for every tooth, including wisdom teeth. Ask our pediatric dentist if your child could benefit from the Healthy Start System.

Unlike metal or Invisalign braces that focus on teeth straightening, our pediatric dentist uses oral appliances that work with your child’s natural tooth eruption. In other words, the Healthy Start System is designed to guide teeth into place as they erupt through the gum line.

Depending on the age of your child, the Healthy Start Program has three treatment phases.


During the first phase of treatment, your child will wear a nighttime oral appliance called a habit-corrector. Like the name suggests, the habit-corrector helps your child stop bad habits (like thumb sucking) that affect dental health. Depending on your child’s smile, they’ll need to wear the habit-corrector between 1 and 5 months.


During the second phase, your child will wear a different oral appliance to help guide adult teeth as they erupt through the gum line. If your child has an overbite or other jaw issues, the second phase will encourage their jaws to grow. The oral appliance also helps expand their arches so each tooth has space to erupt. The second phase lasts between 2 and 6 months.


The final phase will start once your child has at least four adult teeth. The final phase is perhaps the most important because it’s when their gums are starting to attach to adult teeth. Our pediatric dentist will be able to monitor your child’s progress to make sure they maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Dr. Ritzema DDS and his team are dedicated to helping your child start good oral health habits that will last a lifetime. We specialize in preventive dentistry so your child can enjoy a beautiful healthy smile. To schedule an appointment with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentist, call Complete Health Dentistry at (616) 458-7267.