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What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the best time to begin treatment.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces

Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.

Why should malocclusions be treated?

According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems. Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping. Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear. Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments. Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile it creates a healthier you.

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Interceptive Orthodontics is a phased type of orthodontics. Growth is utilized to correct developmental occlusion problems. Staging the treatment can correct immediate problems and future issues. Interceptive orthodontics simply means diagnosing and treating malocclusions as soon as they are detected. The American Academy of Orthodontics now says all children should have an orthodontic assessment no later than the age of seven.

In the past, orthodontic treatment did not begin until around age 12-14. This is when all the permanent teeth are already erupted or very close to it. It was also common for your dentist to remove permanent teeth to correct the bite and allow for room for the final phase of tooth movement. Modern orthodontists now advocate a way to keep permanent teeth, with phased interceptive orthodontics. In interceptive orthodontics, children are treated at much earlier ages (usually between age 7-11 years old) to take advantage of continuing growth. Patients at this age tend to be more receptive to, and compliant with treatment. Interceptive orthodontics allows for fewer teeth to be extracted and also allows for better end results.

Why Does My Child Need Interceptive Orthodontics?

Parents and patients need to understand that when interceptive orthodontics is performed there is usually more than one phase of of treatment. Phase two will begin when all the permanent teeth are in place. Going through phases allows for the second phase to be shorter in duration, since the major corrections happened in the interceptive orthodontics phase. Sometimes interceptive orthodontics are needed to correct problems related to skeletal development, and sometimes it is needed as a direct result of oral habits.

  • Correction of Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habits. Persistent thumb sucking, and extended use of a pacifier effect the development of the mouth. Thumb sucking, and pacifier use after the age of three could result in:
  • a reshaped jawbone given its soft and pliable nature
  • mis-aligned teeth growing out of position
  • narrower dental arches
  • extreme tongue thrust habits
  • protruding front teeth which may be more susceptible to injury
  • "open bites" that would require extensive orthodontic treatment to straighten

Some developmental issues requiring interceptive orthodontics include:

  • constricted palate, causes misalignment of back teeth commonly called crossbite
  • crowding of teeth
  • uneven development of upper and lower jaw

Examples of Interceptive Orthodontics:

  • Expansion of the upper jaw to eliminate a crossbite
  • Expansion of one or both jaws to create space for overly crowded teeth
  • Early removal of specific baby teeth to facilitate the proper eruption of permanent teeth
  • Maintaining space for permanent teeth after the premature loss of a baby tooth
  • Reducing the protrusion of upper incisors to decrease the likelihood of fracture from trauma

What are the advantages of interceptive orthodontics?

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Expanding the palate to properly position back molars
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time