Interceptive treatment is for children who have specific orthodontic problems that are most easily addressed between the ages of 7 and 9, before all of their permanent teeth are present. Using this type of treatment, we are able to work with a child’s growth to remediate conditions like excessive crowding, inappropriate alignment of jaws, crossbite or protruding teeth. We recommend that parents bring their child to see an orthodontist for an evaluation no later than age 7.
We have found that patients with excessive crowding of the upper and/or lower teeth often do not have enough room for all of their permanent teeth to erupt. Left untreated, crowding often leads to extraction of some permanent teeth to make room for others. At Parks Orthodontics, we always try to avoid extractions of permanent teeth if possible. We do this by using simple appliances to gently create space in the child’s mouth for all of their permanent teeth. Another reason for interceptive treatment is misaligned upper and lower jaws. If a patient has an excessive “overbite/overjet” or “underbite”, we can often improve or correct this problem early and minimize further treatment later. We use special appliances that improve the child’s jaw realtionship by guiding their growth.
Crossbites are another reason for early treatment. A crossbite is when a top tooth is sitting on the inside of the arch of the lower teeth, instead of on the outside. The top teeth should sit on the ouside of the bottom teeth like a lid on a box. Crossbites are very important to correct early. Left untreated, a crossbite can cause the lower jaw to grow improperly, or can lead to chipped or cracked teeth. Finally, interceptive treatment can be used to retract front teeth that protrude (buck teeth). Ideally, the upper front teeth should be covered by the lips when the child is not smiling. If they are not, those front teeth are at a higher risk for chipping or breakatge in an active child.
Interceptive treatment is often necessary to address orthodontic problems that occur in younger children. While it does not eliminate the need for braces in the future, early treatment often makes later treatment with braces less complicated. We have also found that younger children have great enthusiasm and cooperation through the orthodontic process and we are able to achieve better outcomes when we start early.