Better Late than Never? Not with Braces—Better Early than Late!
When people think of braces, they picture themselves as that awkward kid in middle school. While it’s true, 80% of what is done with braces or Invisalign in done once all the baby teeth are gone, what about when you see an elementary school child with braces? This is called interceptive treatment. Interceptive treatment, also known as phase I, is a very common and necessary part of early orthodontic treatment and dental development.
When should my child see an Orthodontist and what is Interceptive treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that patients be seen for a consultation as early as age 7 to be considered for orthodontic treatment, particularly interceptive treatment. Interceptive treatment is the use of specific procedures, techniques, and appliances in young patients, as early as age 7 and before age 12, that help facilitate dental growth and development to either eliminate the need for a comprehensive, full set of braces (known as phase II) or make getting braces later, around age 12, easier.
What appliances and techniques are used in Interceptive Treatment?
There are a variety of appliances that may be used during this first phase of treatment, however, there are some that are most common. For example, the use of an upper palatal expander is very commonly used and helps to create more room for the adult teeth to come in by widening the upper arch of the mouth. It is generally in the mouth for approximately 6 months.
An expander can also be used on the lower teeth to reach the same result, and sometimes both upper and lower are used at the same time. Both the upper and lower expanders fit around the back molars of the respective arch with rings and are turned with a key to widen the arch.
Lower Expander Expand
The use of braces is also another technique used during this phase. Braces are used to straighten the adult teeth and are adhered most often to the front teeth only, either just on top, or both top and bottom.
Phase I Braces
When the braces and expander are removed at the end of this phase, a permanent bonded retainer may be used on the backside of the front teeth to hold them in place along with the use of what is called a lingual arch. A lingual arch fits around the back teeth with rings just as the expander does, and a small wire runs around the inside of all the teeth on top (and/or on bottom) to also help hold the treatment that has been done during this phase while waiting for phase II to begin around age 12.
Always remember that every child is different. Not everyone is going to need all of the appliances that have been mentioned here, and some may require something that is not mentioned here. Overall, the important thing is to make sure you are visiting an orthodontist that you trust and feel comfortable with when your child is around age 7, and then, on a regular basis even for observation purposes. As your child grows and develops they may require interceptive treatment that was not necessary at the first consultation.
If you live or work in the Akron Ohio area, give us a call to schedule a complimentary consultation. Let’s make sure to be early, rather than late!
Amanda Spies--Orthodontic AssistantBarnett Orthodontics
Barberton, Ohio 44203