Don't Put It Off: Why Early Treatment Matters
FEBRUARY 28, 2021
This can be confusing for some parents since most young kids still have developing mouths with lots of baby teeth left. However, that’s actually the point! Being able to identify and treat orthodontic issues earlier in life gives them the best foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Here at Van Vliet Orthodontics, we know your child’s smile is as unique as they are. We use a preventative approach built around their specific needs to provide exceptional care and results. When you schedule a free consultation with our Highland or Ramsey office, Dr. Van Vliet will assess their oral health and dental development up to this point. He’ll be looking for anything that may signify a need for further observation and possible treatment, now or at some point in the future.
If Dr. Van Vliet detects any potential problems between the ages of 6-9, it can prompt a treatment stage we refer to as interceptive orthodontics.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics, also called Phase I orthodontics, is a process that we use to identify and diagnose issues with a young child’s jaw growth or tooth development. When we begin treatment at the most optimum age, it creates space for the proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth and enhances the growth of the child’s jaw.
To put it in terms that are easier to understand, interceptive orthodontics provides children with the best treatment at the best time! The results are straighter teeth, improved oral health, and a more symmetrical smile.
Who is a good candidate for interceptive orthodontics?
During your child’s first visit, Dr. Van Vliet will perform a thorough examination of their teeth and jaws. He may recommend interceptive orthodontics if it appears that:
- your child will be prone to a problem we want to prevent
- your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept
- your child’s jawbones may need some guidance as they grow
Many orthodontic issues are genetic. This includes gapped or crowded teeth, extra or missing teeth, and several other irregularities. Other problems may be acquired through injury, premature tooth loss, or bad oral habits. Whatever the cause, alignment issues and other problems can affect the way your child’s smile looks, feels, and functions. With interceptive orthodontics, we can successfully address each of those!
What are some examples of interceptive orthodontics?
Some parents worry that an early evaluation will automatically lead to treatment, but this is rarely the case. We recommend immediate treatment for only a small number of the children we see in our practice. If treatment is recommended, it doesn’t always mean we’ll be putting braces on your child right away. Plenty of treatments in this phase don’t even use brackets or wires! Some of these include:
- removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper placement of the permanent teeth
- using expanders to widen the upper jaw and provide space for very crowded teeth
- placing teeth spacers to save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth has been lost early due to injury or decay
When we take advantage of interceptive orthodontics, we’re often able to achieve lasting results for many common issues and can lessen the impact of others. Keep in mind, however, that most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.
Keeping an eye on your child’s smile as they grow
Early orthodontic evaluations are one of the best ways to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles! Even if we don’t detect any oral issues during that first visit, there are several benefits to visiting an orthodontist throughout childhood. Regular check-ups like these will allow Dr. Van Vliet to:
- monitor the progress of emerging permanent teeth
- monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
- reduce the need for jaw surgery later in life
- guide emerging teeth into the ideal positions
- detect any hidden dental problems
- reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- reduce the risk of needing tooth extractions in the future
At Van Vliet Orthodontics, we know what works for one child may not be a good fit for another. That’s why Dr. Van Vliet creates a customized treatment plan for every patient, built around their unique needs, lifestyle, and goals. This personalized touch ensures every child receives exactly the right plan for their smile, at exactly the right time.
If you have a child who’s ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, get in touch today! We’d love to meet you both and take a good look at their dental development so far. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Van Vliet and take the first step towards a healthier smile for your child!