What Is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

The enthusiasm felt by the doctors and staff about early orthodontic treatment is evident in any discussion, and its benefits cannot be matched! The general dental community and our patients clearly recognize the valuable benefits obtained by this early treatment.

Early treatment enables the jaws to be precisely aligned as they develop and jaw size to be coordinated with tooth size. Each child’s growth potential is maximized so that all of the permanent teeth have room to come in naturally. In almost all cases, future problems (such as extractions) are avoided.

Benefits of early two phase therapy:

  • Raises a young person’s self-esteem
  • Eliminates unnecessary permanent extractions and/or surgery (along with discomfort and costs)
  • Prevents impaction of eye teeth (by creating adequate space)
  • Total time in braces is significantly reduced
  • Treatment is typically completed during middle school
  • Pre-teens are more cooperative and enthusiastic about wearing braces
  • Reduces the #1 cause of fractures for children – protruding teeth
  • Intercepting early problems makes the entire treatment process more comfortable!

There are two critical phases of early orthodontic treatment for our young patients:

  • The first phase: Interceptive
  • The second phase: Completion

* Optimum treatment results can only be obtained when both phases are completed properly.

The Interceptive Phase typically begins around age seven and lasts approximately 12-18 months, with office visits scheduled every six to eight weeks. goals are very specific (achieved with a few simple appliances and partial braces only):

  • expand jaws to make room for all permanent teeth
  • improve the bite
  • align permanent front teeth

After these goals are met, appliances and braces are removed and fixed retainers are provided to the patient. Retention time ranges from 12-24 months. Patients are monitored every 3 months to ensure phase I results are maintained, monitor erupting teeth and determine the optimum time to complete this two-phase process.

The completion phase begins when most of the permanent teeth have erupted. This last phase does involve braces on all teeth, (to finish what we’ve started!) with treatment time ranging from 12 to 20 months. As in the interceptive phase, goals for the completion phase are very specific:

  • aligning the remaining permanent back teeth
  • obtaining ideal function/stability by completion of bite correction