In the past, most people who needed braces were told to wait until their permanent teeth were fully erupted before beginning orthodontic treatment. Now, however, dentists have discovered that early intervention may actually prevent future problems with the mouth, jawbone and bite. This early intervention is called interceptive orthodontics, a treatment that is performed by a dentist.
Interceptive Orthodontics Explained
Interceptive orthodontics seeks to “intercept” or prevent bite problems. Many teens and adults need braces because of crowding issues; the permanent teeth are too crowded or emerge crooked, which makes brushing, flossing and other care difficult. Bite misalignment, protruding front teeth, and other issues related to the placement, bite or position of the teeth and jaw may call for orthodontic treatment.
With this technique, early intervention seeks to prevent such problems in the first place by treating the mouth, palate and jaw while a child is still growing. Spacers may be used to improve spacing between the teeth or to help shape the jaw and palate. Problems created by over-reliance on a pacifier or thumb sucking can be corrected. It may even shorten the time necessary for braces after permanent teeth grow into the mouth. Have a look at Orthodontics in Jacksonville Beach for more info on this.
Why Do Children Need Interceptive Orthodontics?
Dentists recommend interceptive orthodontics for many reasons. One of the most common reasons is to correct issues caused by thumb sucking or pacifier habits. Using pacifiers for an extended period of time or thumb sucking that persists beyond infancy can reshape the jawbone causing misalignment of teeth. It can also cause teeth to grow in crookedly, especially the front teeth which may point outwards. This can make front teeth more susceptible to injury over time, as well as make a child self-conscious about his appearance. Bite and tongue issues can also develop due to thumb sucking and pacifier use. Interceptive orthodontics, as well as weaning your child at an early age off the thumb or pacifier, can help prevent or correct problems.
Other developmental issues that may call for this treatment include palate issues and uneven growth of the upper and lower jaw. Palate and jaw issues can be more easily corrected while a child is still growing, as the tissues are softer and pliable. Interceptive orthodontics corrects the palate and jaw, perhaps preventing other, more intrusive interventions later on.
Adjusting to Treatment
Children ages 7 to 11 adjust surprisingly well. They’re old enough to understand the importance of taking care of their teeth, and generally cooperate with appointments and special instructions from the dentist or orthodontics.
Children who play sports may be asked to wear a mouth guard to protect against injury, and it may be difficult to persuade kids that young to avoid chewing gum, caramel, taffy and other foods that can break orthodontic appliances. And for kids who love to play musician instruments such as the trumpet, oboe or clarinet, a little extra practice at first may be necessary to get the right feel once braces or other appliances are in place. However, there shouldn’t be anything about interceptive orthodontics that gets in the way of your child continuing to enjoy his favorite activities and have all the fun he had before orthodontics.
Sometimes interceptive orthodontics is part of a two-phased approach to correct bite, jaw or teeth problems. Interceptive orthodontics may be used during the child’s growth phase, while additional orthodontic treatment may be recommended later on.
No two children are alike, and every person is unique. Please talk to your child’s dentist about your specific concerns and questions about interceptive orthodontics. This information cannot, and is not intended to, substitute for the advice from your child’s doctor, or dentist. But it should give you a little background to help you think through your questions about interceptive orthodontics before your child’s next dental appointment.