As parents, keeping children happy and healthy is a major responsibility. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctor visits should begin in just the first week of a child’s life with frequent follow-up appointments until age 3. After that, annual appointments are the norm. Biannual dental visits also start early for children, beginning when the child’s first tooth appears, according to guidance from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists

While all parents should know these guidelines, they may be less aware of how important pediatric orthodontic work is. The experts at the American Association of Orthodontists tell parents that they arrange their child’s first orthodontist visit at age 7. By then, permanent teeth are starting to come in and the child’s face and jaw bones are still growing. With this information, orthodontists can begin the first phase of orthodontic work—aka interceptive orthodontic treatment. 

Here, we take a look at what interceptive orthodontic treatment is and how it can benefit your child’s long-term oral health:

What Exactly is Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment?

Also called “phase-one orthodontics” or simply “early orthodontics,” interceptive orthodontic treatment revolves around addressing alignment problems as early as possible. In short, interceptive orthodontic procedures aim to either eliminate alignment issues at an early age or at least reduce the severity of an issue while a child’s dentition is still developing. 

By and large, interceptive orthodontic treatments are simple. Depending on what issues the patient is dealing with, treatments range from muscle exercises and controlling bad habits to tooth extraction, wearing an orthopedic device, or undergoing minor surgery. 

Interceptive orthodontic planning begins when child patients first enter the orthodontist’s office at age 5. At this first appointment, the orthodontist performs a complete evaluation of the patient’s evolving facial/dental features, including their:

  • Jaw size
  • Oral bite
  • Facial growth patterns
  • Permanent teeth eruption patterns

With the help of this examination, the child’s orthodontist will be able to pinpoint emerging problems before they have a chance to become more severe. 

How Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment Can Benefit Your Child

Interceptive orthodontic treatments provide children with numerous long-term health benefits. Rather than allowing bite issues and tooth misalignments to freely develop, interceptive treatments minimize them at an early stage, leading to easier, quicker treatments later on. 

Consider crossbites, for example. A type of misalignment in which one’s upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth, crossbites are developed at an early age due to several factors, including:

  • Thumb-sucking
  • Tongue-thrusting
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Losing baby teeth tooth early
  • Genetics

Over time, crossbites can cause many oral and mental health issues such as headaches, jaw pain, speech impediments, excessive plaque, and low self-image. Fortunately, interceptive orthodontic treatments can curb crossbite development and prevent these issues from taking place. 

Depending on which factors are causing the crossbite, orthodontists can use a few different methods to stop development. Common interceptive treatments include:

  • Serial extraction (i.e. removing certain baby teeth to facilitate proper permanent teeth eruption)
  • Expanding or narrowing the jaw with the help of a removable retainer-like appliance
  • Preventing thumb-sucking and tongue-thrusting with the use of a small removable appliance

Each of these treatments will either correct the crossbite at an early age or prevent the crossbite from developing into a serious malocclusion (i.e. tooth misalignment). 

By providing interceptive orthodontic treatments for your children, you can help them:

  • Experience better long-term oral health
  • Avoid more extensive orthodontic treatments later in life
  • Smile with greater confidence
  • Speak more clearly
  • Reduce the risk of physical dental trauma

Searching for Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment in Beverly Hills? BHO Has You Covered

As a part of our pediatric orthodontic services, we here at Beverly Hills Orthodontics offer interceptive treatments for a number of alignment issues, including crossbites, open bites, crowding, and more. Beyond treating specific alignment problems, interceptive orthodontic treatment also helps your child maintain great oral health and avoid development issues. 

To keep children in top health, Dr. Monica Madan and the BHO team start seeing patients at age 7. During these early-age appointments, the orthodontists at BHO will:

  • Perform a full evaluation of the patient’s developing jaw and mouth structure
  • Validate whether permanent teeth are emerging in a healthy fashion
  • Identify potential issues and signs of future problems
  • Begin planning any interceptive orthodontic treatments

With these steps, you can make sure that your child is on the right path towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.