Interceptive Orthodontics: The Key to Early Dental Health for Children

Why not get a head start on correcting childhood orthodontic issues, the kinds of corrections that can prevent many adult problems with the teeth or jaw? The term interceptive orthodontics means exactly that: Correcting the alignment and spacing of teeth with preventative early orthodontic treatment while a child’s teeth and bones are still forming. 

As interceptive orthodontics grows in practice, it has been found that this early intervention can benefit a large percentage of children. 

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about interceptive orthodontics for your child, including its importance, benefits, and some of the treatments that are part of Phase 1 orthodontics. 

What Is Interceptive Orthodontics?

We try to keep our cars tuned up, complete with good tires, before there’s a problem, right? If we don’t, we can end up trying to address a problem after a dangerous blowout or breakdown on the road. Why wouldn’t we do the same for our teeth and the teeth of our kids?

Interceptive orthodontics–sometimes referred to as Phase 1 orthodontics or preventative orthodontic treatment– is based on the same concept: Preventative protection and adjustment of the teeth and jaws of children. The goal is to eliminate or reduce major orthodontic treatment later when it is more difficult to address and more expensive. Imagine being able to lay the groundwork early so that your child never has to wear braces at all. 

Let’s clarify the difference between interceptive orthodontics and corrective orthodontics. The difference rests on the prevention aspect of the former: Interceptive orthodontics means preventing the formation of misaligned teeth. Corrective orthodontics, on the other hand, is the treatment of a misalignment that has already occurred in the permanent teeth. 

Here are some examples of malocclusions that would need corrective measures by your orthodontist sooner or later:

  • Significant crowding and misalignment of the primary teeth by the age of seven. 
  • Missing baby teeth due to injury or decay. 
  • Protruding front teeth that are susceptible to injury.
  • Skeletal issues that would require corrective jaw surgery.
  • Problems with chewing, biting, or speaking clearly.

If these problems were identified early, they may never have happened at all.

Why Interceptive Orthodontics Is Important

If a child has crowded baby teeth, it means their permanent teeth will also come in crowded. After all, the permanent teeth are bigger, so, logically, they will have to try to squeeze into a space that is already too small! Interceptive orthodontics can step in and correct the crowded baby teeth so the permanent teeth will come in properly.

Here are some other specific reasons to ask your orthodontist about interceptive orthodontics:

Better Oral Health

Crowded and crooked teeth are hard to clean thoroughly. This can result in gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and more dental work. Early orthodontic treatment can help ensure optimal oral health.

Improved Speech

Misaligned teeth make it difficult to speak properly. This can have devastating consequences when a child realizes the sounds they create are not like everyone else’s and they don’t know why. In some kids, this causes delays in speaking that last a lifetime. Interceptive orthodontics can correct these issues and the patient’s speech improves dramatically.

Aesthetics To Be Proud Of

Self-confidence is a fragile thing especially when the patient is a child or teen. It matters a great deal how their peers view them. Interceptive orthodontics maintains or improves the appearance of the teeth and mouth at an earlier age and can avoid braces and other orthodontic devices that can erode self-confidence.

Now that we have showcased the benefits of early orthodontic treatment, what techniques are used to make these changes? Read on!

Types of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early interceptive orthodontics utilizes various types of treatment depending on the patient’s needs. Some of the common treatments/appliances used include:

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders, also known as orthodontic expanders, are used when the upper jaw isn’t wide enough to properly accommodate all of the teeth. When used in a child’s mouth, it widens the palate/jaw before the permanent teeth erupt. The teeth then have the necessary room to grow in straight, thus eliminating the need for braces later.

Space Maintainers

These orthodontic appliances hold open a space in the mouth after a baby tooth has fallen out so that the permanent tooth has room to come in without overcrowding.

Braces

Braces are one of the most common orthodontic tools to correct alignment issues of the teeth and are now available in a variety of types.

Retainers

A retainer is used after braces to ensure the stability of the new alignment of teeth and prevent the teeth from moving back into their previously misaligned places.

Common Orthodontic Concerns Addressed by Interceptive Orthodontics:

Crossbites

This term refers to a misalignment of the upper and lower teeth when they come together. This can damage the teeth and the underlying bone over time.

Overbites and Underbites

Other kinds of bite problems happen when the upper teeth protrude too far over the lower teeth or, in reverse, when the lower teeth extend beyond the upper teeth.  Aside from appearance issues, bite problems like this can result in speech and chewing issues.

Overcrowding

Overcrowded teeth are one of the most common orthodontic issues. Teeth that are crowded into the available space lead to poor oral hygiene because the toothbrush and floss can’t reach all the surfaces of the teeth. Crowded teeth are also unsightly, especially in the front of the mouth.

Problems with the Jaw

Early orthodontic intervention can guide the growth of a child’s jaw so that the alignment and function of the teeth and jaw are correct from the beginning. This avoids future issues like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD and TMJ), which can cause debilitating pain later in life if left uncorrected. 

Interceptive Orthodontics Has Lifetime Benefits

Early interceptive orthodontics is a proactive approach that includes early detection, prevention, and treatment of orthodontic problems before they develop fully. Orthodontic issues like bite problems, crowding and crooked teeth, and jaw development problems can be prevented, thus saving time, money, and discomfort later.

Interceptive orthodontics help ensure that minor alignment and bite issues are caught early and puts your child on the path to a healthy beautiful smile for the rest of their life. The team here at Reed & Sahlaney Orthodontics specializes in various early orthodontic treatments, including palatal expanders and more.

Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.