There are some orthodontic problems that should be addressed between the ages of 7 and 10 before your child has all of their permanent teeth. Most of the time, your orthodontist will take a “wait-and-see” approach, and will re-evaluate the growth and development of your child periodically. Our doctors will monitor your child as they grow and will recommend the ideal time for your child to start treatment when needed.
Phase I Treatment
If it is determined that your child needs treatment before all of their permanent teeth are present, the type of treatment varies based on the kind of problem your child needs corrected. The goal of interceptive treatment could be to create enough space for permanent teeth to erupt into the mouth or to help guide the growth of your child’s jaws. For some patients, interceptive treatment could be simply removing a stubborn baby tooth and using a space maintainer, so that the permanent tooth can erupt in its proper place. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7 to assess his or her growth pattern and help prevent growth related problems.
Not all orthodontic treatment is accomplished with ceramic or traditional braces. For some patients, interceptive treatment could be simply removing a stubborn baby tooth, so that the permanent tooth can erupt in its proper place. Certain patients may need help with how to position their tongue when they swallow, while others may need intervention to stop a thumb- or finger-sucking habit. These issues are sometimes treated with habit appliances. If a child’s upper jaw is too narrow, so that the permanent teeth do not have room to come in, interceptive treatment could consist of a palate expander to widen the upper jaw.
The purpose of interceptive treatment is to create a healthy environment for permanent teeth to erupt, to correct oral habits, to prevent problems from developing, to stop an existing problem, to guide the growth of the jawbones, to lower the risk of damage to the permanent teeth, and to establish long term stability of the oral masticatory system.
Phase II Treatment
Sometimes preventive or interceptive orthodontic treatment will be all your child needs. However, there is a good chance your child will require a second phase of comprehensive orthodontic treatment after the child has most or all of their permanent teeth. The purpose of interceptive treatment is often to address jaw growth problems or set up the proper environment for the permanent teeth to erupt on their own. Comprehensive treatment or Phase 2 treatment is typically needed in order to straighten the permanent teeth, improve the way the teeth fit together, improve soft tissue appearance and give your child a beautiful smile. This phase of treatment completes the tooth and jaw alignment that was started with a first phase of preventive or interceptive treatment.
To make an appointment or to learn more about interceptive orthodontics, please contact New England Orthodontic Specialists at (978) 529-3030 to speak with our staff.