Phase I treatment

Interceptive Orthodontics: The Basics

November 13th, 2018

WHEN WE PICTURE SOMEONE with braces, we usually picture a teenager with a mouthful of colorful brackets. What we don’t typically picture is orthodontic appliances on younger children. However, interceptive orthodontics can reduce the need for tooth extraction and jaw surgery, correct certain problems as they appear, encourage better facial development, shorten the length of orthodontic treatment needed later on, and leave patients with a better overall result in the end.

Interceptive Orthodontics Heads Off Problems Early

Conventional wisdom argues that orthodontic treatment shouldn’t start until all the adult teeth have grown in, but some issues with bite, alignment, and facial development can show up long before those teeth do. That’s where interceptive or “Phase 1” orthodontics comes in. An orthodontist can help your child’s jaw bones grow properly to have more room for the adult teeth and provide the structure for a healthier bite. Correcting problems like malocclusions (bad bites) as they appear makes future orthodontic treatment much faster and easier — and, in some cases, unnecessary!

Causes Of Malocclusions In Children

Interceptive orthodontics seeks to correct problems with jaw growth and damage from harmful habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. Each of these habits contributes to bite problems such as a narrow upper arch, an underdeveloped lower jaw, a deep bite, and an open bite, as well as dental crowding, which in turn can make it difficult to chew and swallow effectively and speak clearly. The purpose of Phase 1 treatment is to stop those habits if they persist or repair the damage so that the adult teeth can grow in where they should.

Common Phase 1 Treatments

One of the most noticeable differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 orthodontics is that Phase 1 is less focused on actual braces. Those typically come later, if they are still needed. Some of the treatments commonly used in Phase 1 include:

  • Upper jaw expansion to eliminate a crossbite
  • Expansion of one or both jaws to create more room for adult teeth
  • Early extraction of specific baby teeth to help adult teeth come in properly
  • Keeping space open for permanent teeth after premature loss of a baby tooth
  • Reduction of upper front teeth protrusion to protect from trauma

Is Your Child A Candidate For Interceptive Orthodontics?

Phase 1 orthodontics works better for correcting some problems than others. The best way you can find out if it can help your child get the healthy, properly aligned smile they deserve is to bring them in for an orthodontic consultation around age 7 — especially if you’ve noticed any obvious bite problems or if they have one or more of those harmful oral health habits. In the meantime, keep encouraging them to do their brushing and flossing!

Our top priority is helping patients achieve healthy smiles for life!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Stephanie Ezcurra used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Baby Teeth and Braces: Why Early Treatment May Be Necessary

May 10th, 2016

WHILE MANY THINK BRACES are for correcting misaligned adult teeth, you may be surprised to learn that orthodontics can help correct your child’s bite before their adult teeth even come in!

Baby Teeth Play an Important Role in Oral Health

Primary teeth—more commonly known as baby teeth—play a key role in your child’s oral health. Besides providing an aesthetic appeal to your child’s smile and boosting their self-esteem, primary teeth have three main functions:

  1. They aid in proper chewing, fostering good nutrition
  2. They promote proper speech development
  3. They reserve a space for permanent teeth to grow in

If a primary tooth falls out or must be removed before its time due to decay, the surrounding teeth may shift into the gap, causing dental crowding and future orthodontic problems.

Seven Is the Perfect Age for an Orthodontic Visit

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic exam at the earliest signs of any orthodontic issue, but no later than age seven. Although not every child will need treatment that young, some may benefit from early intervention.

Much of the treatment that takes place at this age is called Phase 1 orthodontic treatment, usually occurring when a child still has a mix of primary and permanent, secondary teeth. During this phase, we seek to correct any problems that may be occurring with jaw growth and even address certain bite issues. This phase is generally followed by a second phase of treatment when all of the child’s permanent teeth have erupted.

Beginning two phase treatment while your child still has primary teeth can have numerous benefits and can even reduce the time needed for a full set of braces.

Early Orthodontic Intervention Can Prevent Future Problems

Whether or not your child is showing signs of misaligned teeth, seven is the perfect age for them to come in for an orthodontic evaluation. Orthodontic treatment isn’t always necessary if there’s a space in your little one’s primary teeth or baby teeth, but we can help you determine the best plan for your child’s growing smile.

Thank you for trusting us with your family’s oral health! We love our patients.

Image by Flickr user Loren Kerns used underCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.