Early treatment, also known as phase I or Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment, is an important part of early childhood oral care. It’s also the easiest and most effective way to ensure that your child’s jaws and teeth will develop correctly.
As the first part of two-phase orthodontic care, early treatment means providing your child with a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles.
What Is Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?
When orthodontic treatment first became commonplace, parents brought their children to the orthodontist later in life, once they determined that the permanent teeth required correction.
Today, we know that waiting until your child is older can result in significant problems that require intensive (and expensive) treatment to correct. By evaluating your child early – before jaw structures and permanent teeth have finished growing – we can take a proactive stance to help minimize the treatment required later on.
The Importance of Early Evaluation
Modern scientific research tells us that the optimal time for your child’s first orthodontic evaluation is around age 7. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists urges parents to have their children evaluated not later than their 8th birthday.
This early exam and evaluation allows us to identify and address any potential problems before they develop.
At this stage of tooth development, a child’s rear molars begin to emerge, establishing his or her bite. Once these teeth grow in, the orthodontist can identify the potential for misalignment or crowding, problems with the bite or developmental issues in the jaw.
Benefits and Advantages of Early Treatment
Depending on your child’s first orthodontic examination, no treatment may be necessary. In that case, we will continue to monitor his or her growth and development, and begin treatment when the time is right.
If we do detect potential problems, treatment goals may include creating space for the permanent teeth to grow properly, directing jaw growth to ensure symmetry, and correcting bite.
This is also the ideal time to identify any bad habits your child has, which can negatively influence future oral health. For example, tongue thrusting and thumb sucking can both influence tooth development.
Not only will your child enjoy an improved sense of self-esteem through the early correction of orthodontic problems, but we may also be able to minimize or eliminate the need for many aspects of future treatment.
If early treatment is warranted, we recommend beginning right away, while the first teeth are still present. This allows us to direct the growth and development of the permanent teeth and jaws.
More importantly, phase I orthodontic treatment allows us to establish a solid working relationship with your children, and to get them started with the healthy habits of caring for their teeth.
Contact Family Orthodontics today to schedule your child’s first exam. Together, we can ensure that your entire family enjoys a lifetime of healthy smiles that begin with early treatment.