Early orthodontic treatment, known as Interceptive orthodontics or Phase I orthodontics is specifically for children whose mouths are still growing as it is only effective during this time. At around ages six and seven, adult teeth typically begin to come in. At this point, any orthodontic problems in the future become apparent and it’s much easier to assess and treat problems while the child is developing as opposed to when they are fully grown. Interceptive orthodontics aim to guide and influence the growth and development of the jaws to create sufficient space for the adult teeth to emerge. This would generally result in fewer extractions, reduce need for jaw expanding and achieve better, more stable results.
There is a general belief that children should only begin orthodontic treatment between the ages of 12 to 14 years, when all the permanent teeth have erupted. Correction of crowding at this stage is limited to only mechanical forces and as such, adult teeth could require extractions to make room for the lack of space in the mouth. With interceptive orthodontics, treatment can start as early as 6 to 10 years of age. Also, interceptive treatment itself doesn’t necessarily involve braces; instead, it can employ a number of other techniques, ranging from removable appliances (plates) to special devices and behavioural/ habitual modification. Later on, comprehensive orthodontics (phase 2) may not be needed or if so, at reduced time span. Extraction of teeth or expansion of jaws may also be needed in Phase 2 orthodontics .
Numerous studies have shown that in most cases, crowding in children are due to harmful oral habits which ultimately cause poor bone or skeletal development. This could be due to bad tongue posture, incompetent lip seal or mouth breathing. Interceptive orthodontics, aims to develop the face and jaw correctly by creating more room for the adult teeth to grow into.
Aside from correcting crowded teeth, Interceptive Orthodontics also help in improving the child’s facial appearance. Malocclusions occur due to a tooth or jaw misalignment. It affects the way a child chews, smiles, cleans his teeth or even how he feels about his smile.
Benefits of early Orthodontic Treatment
Early orthodontic treatment may prevent serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later stage shorter and less complicated. Some of the procedures include:
- Guide jaw growth to create facial symmetry
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favourable position
- Improve the way lips meet
- Maintaining spaces for permanent teeth after premature loss of baby teeth
- Regaining spaces where baby teeth were lost/ extracted and the adjacent teeth have drifted into the sites
- Upper jaw expansion to widen constricted jaw, causing crossing over-bite (crossbite)
- Expansion of one or both jaws (with expanders or limited braces) to create more room for adult teeth to come through
- Protrusion reduction (retract bucked out front teeth to reduce risk of injury)
- Stopping thumb and pacifier habits
- Selective extractions of specific baby teeth at appropriate timing to help guide adult teeth come through properly
Does your child need interceptive orthodontics?
- Teeth crowding
- Overbites and underbites
- Crossbite (misaligned upper and lower teeth locked together, caused by constricted jaw)
- Jaw irregularities (unevenness in upper and lower jaws)
- Narrow dental arches (from thumb-sucking and pacifier habits)
- Early loss of primary teeth with drift of adult teeth
- Impacted teeth and teeth being anchored with jaw bone
- Protruding teeth at risk for trauma or causing social distress (teasing)
Contact Specialist Kids Dentist Today
It’s never too early to begin to observe your child’s oral development. The paediatric dentist at our dental clinic can identify crowded or crooked teeth as early as possible. They will also observe bite problems and improper jaw growth during a regular check-up. To find out if your child needs interceptive orthodontic dental treatment call the children’s dentist at Specialist Kids Dentist today for an orthodontic consultation. Our aim is to help patients achieve healthy smiles for life!