Early (Interceptive) Orthodontics

At what age should a child first visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children should have an orthodontic check-up by age 7, but the vast majority do not need treatment until approximately age 12.

Why is Age 7 important?

Age 7 is when the four adult 1st molars and four adult front teeth (two top, two bottoms) have typically erupted.

Screening children at this dental stage of development allow Dr. Bronsen to detect and monitor any small problems before they become big problems. This baseline set of records is used to compare for changes in future orthodontic check-ups, allowing us to be pro-active in our conservative treatment approach.

A referral from your dentist is not needed! So please don’t hesitate to schedule your child’s first orthodontic check-up at age 7!

What are the advantages of early/interceptive/Phase I treatment?

For those patients who will benefit from early intervention, Phase I treatment presents the opportunity to:

  • Reduce abnormal tooth eruption, which may prevent a future impacted tooth and necessity for oral surgery
  • Gain space for severely crowded, erupting permanent teeth
  • Reduce the potential of trauma to protruded front teeth.
  • Correct a skeletal posterior crossbite, which may be causing asymmetric, irreversible lower jaw growth
  • Correct a skeletal anterior crossbite (underbite), which may prevent the need for future jaw surgery
  • Correct skeletal open bites from thumb sucking
  • Improve abnormal swallowing or speech problems.

If interceptive treatment is indicated, Dr. Schliep can guide the growth of the jaws and incoming permanent teeth. For example, large underbites at this age often result from a small upper jaw that is too far back. Treatment for this skeletal discrepancy between the ages of 7-10 is extremely effective, typically completed in 12-14 months, and often prevents the need for jaw surgery later in life.

In other instances, Dr. Bronsen will simply request the removal of over-retained baby teeth (whose roots aren’t getting eaten away), to reduce the likelihood of impacted adult teeth. In other words, early (interceptive) treatment can simplify and shorten later treatment, after all the permanent teeth erupt.

Does early (interceptive) treatment benefit all children?

Early (interceptive) treatment does not necessarily benefit all children. Certain types of orthodontic problems can be more easily and efficiently corrected in the teen years (age 11-14) when all the permanent teeth have erupted. Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or completed. The doctors develop a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. If the doctor decides the patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed on our Growth & Development program.

What is the Growth & Development (Kids’ club) program?

The Growth & Development program is for children who are not ready for treatment and have been placed on recall. If treatment is deemed to be beneficial, close monitoring will allow Dr. Bronsen to recommend an optimal time period to begin treatment, which ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense.

We will notify your general dentist of any recommendations made during your visit.

We normally see the patients on recall every 6-12 months to observe their progress as they grow.

This service is complimentary!

If a child has early (interceptive) treatment, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?

Early (interceptive) treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, their final alignment may not have been corrected.

Typically, a shortened comprehensive phase of treatment (Phase II – full braces) in the teen years, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, completes the correction. However, in some circumstances, further orthodontic treatment may be optional.

Do we still need to see our family dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Patients with braces and other orthodontic appliances require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean. Because we want to ensure the highest level of dental health, we recommend you see your family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings every 6 months during treatment.

From the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO):

(Click on the photo to view larger)