Early interceptive orthodontic treatment (Phase I) is primarily used to prevent and correct “bite” irregularities. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that an orthodontist evaluate a child by the age of seven, and even earlier, if a parent or family dentist discovers a problem. Several factors may contribute to such irregularities, including genetic factors, the early loss of primary (baby) teeth, and damaging oral habits (such as thumb sucking and developmental problems).
Orthodontic irregularities may be present at birth or develop during early childhood. Crooked teeth hamper self-esteem and make good oral home care difficult, whereas straight teeth help minimize the risk of tooth decay and childhood periodontal disease.
Early orthodontic diagnosis and treatment offers many benefits including the following:
- Improving your child’s appearance and self-esteem with proper jaw alignment
- Minimizing the need for extractions or surgical correction in the future
- Helping correct overbites, underbites, open bites, and crossbites.
- Shortening and/or improving the results of the second phase of treatment (full braces).
What Does an Orthodontist Do?
Education – Orthodontists educate using models, computer technology, and understandable terminology, emphasizing the importance of keeping teeth functional and beautiful.
Monitoring growth – By continuously tracking growth and development, orthodontists are able to anticipate dental issues and quickly intervene before they worsen. Also, working towards earlier corrective treatment preserves the child’s self-esteem and fosters a more positive self-image.
Prevention – Establishing beautiful and functional teeth reduces the risk for decay, periodontal disease, and temporomandibular disorders.
Intervention – In some cases, the orthodontist may discuss the possibility of early interceptive treatments with parents. Some of the common reasons to start treatment early include overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite, and crowding.