Early interceptive orthodontics, sometimes referred to as “Phase 1” orthodontics, is the earliest stage of orthodontic treatment. It often takes place around the ages of 6-10, before the complete set of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted.
Early intervention is often used to address issues like a narrow palate that may cause tooth crowding as well as speech, breathing, or swallowing difficulties. Early interceptive orthodontics can also involve strategically removing certain baby teeth or moving teeth that are impeding proper permanent tooth eruption, or to address bite development problems, such as a crossbite, underbite, or overbite.
By treating these issues early with orthodontic treatment, which often times means use of specific types of retainers, you can ensure that your child’s mouth and airway develop properly, while making it easier to straighten their teeth naturally. In many cases, early interceptive orthodontics can completely eliminate the need for traditional braces can save a lot of time and money. In other cases “Phase 2” orthodontic treatment may still be beneficial but will be a lot simpler and shorter in duration.
Space maintainers are often recommended if your child has lost a baby tooth prematurely. Baby teeth help provide the “path” through which the adult, or permanent, teeth can erupt. If your child loses a baby tooth very early, the surrounding teeth can shift and block this “path,” causing issues with proper oral development. Most often this is only a concern if a molar (back tooth) is lost prematurely.
A space maintainer is a small metal or plastic appliance that is placed into the space where your child’s missing baby tooth used to be. As the name implies, it ensures the proper space is maintained between your child’s teeth until their permanent tooth begins to erupt. Dr. Ball prefers fixed appliances that are held in place with dental cement and are removed by us at the appropriate time. Removable appliances tend to get lost or mysteriously go missing, so we try to avoid that frustration.
Removal of teeth may sound scary, but you’d be surprised how well most kids handle it, especially if their parents don’t inadvertently get them spooked about the procedure. Extractions can be very beneficial. For orthodontic purposes, a well-timed extraction of a baby tooth can make a huge difference.
We keep track of the positioning and eruption path of your child’s permanent teeth by obtaining a panoramic x-ray, usually once around age 6-7 and again at age 9-10. These 2 images combined provide incredibly helpful information for planning towards best outcomes from an orthodontic standpoint.
In a mouth that is crowded, sequentially extracting baby teeth can have amazing results, because it allows for the right amount of space at the right time for permanent teeth to grow into a more desirable position. Pairing this approach with appliance therapy, to help alleviate crowding and naturally allow for more favorable jaw growth, leads to predictable outcomes with a beautiful and healthy smile as a result.
Dr. Ball is gentle and skilled with extractions and can make the procedure easy for your child. The use of laughing gas is also offered for extractions, since local anesthetic injections are required as part of the procedure, and because it tends to be a somewhat anxiety-inducing procedure for kids (and sometimes parents, too). We get it, and we’ve got you covered.
Do you have questions about early interceptive orthodontic treatment at Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry? We have answers.
If your child’s baby teeth are erupting late or they are having problems with adult teeth erupting improperly, their smile looks crooked, or you notice any issues with their bite, they may benefit from early interceptive orthodontics.
The best way to find out if your child needs early interceptive orthodontic treatment is by contacting Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Ball can examine their mouth, identify any areas of concern, and provide you with a customized treatment plan to ensure your child’s mouth develops properly.