Orthodontic Treatment for Kids

As recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists, an initial check-up with an orthodontic specialist by age 7 enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems (if any), advise if treatment will be necessary, and determine the best time for that patient to be treated.

This First phase of treatment is called Interceptive early treatment.

Interceptive Early treatment for kids typically begins when the four permanent teeth erupt (ages 7-9) and lasts approximately 12-18 months. It is not unusual to begin orthodontic intervention if one or more of the following early warning signs are seen:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Oral habits that include finger sucking, tongue thrusting, or excessive grinding
  • Excessive dental crowding, misplaced or block-out teeth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Open bites (front teeth that do not meet together)
  • Facial imbalance, such as jaw that protrude or recede
  • Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth

Early orthodontic treatment for Kids (Phase I interceptive treatment) can:

  • Guide jaw growth
  • Widening narrow or constricted jaws
  • Guide incoming permanent teeth into desirable positions
  • Lower risk of trauma (accidents) to protruded upper incisors (front teeth)
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve personal appearance and self-esteem
  • Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
  • Preserve or gain space for permanent teeth that are coming in

Goals for Phase I treatment are very specific and are achieved with a few simple appliances and partial braces only. A variety of appliances are used:

  • Braces – placed on the upper and sometimes lower permanent teeth
  • Headgear
  • Palatal Expander (worn to widen the upper jaw)
  • Face mask/Reverse headgear (worn to move upper jaw or teeth forward)
  • Functional appliance – removable “retainer” worn to redirect jaw growth

Once these goals are met, appliances & braces are removed and retainers are given to the patient. Post phase I retention ranges from 12-24 months. During this Phase I retention phase patients are monitored approximately every 4 months to ensure Phase I results are maintained, and to monitor the eruption of the remaining permanent teeth.

There are Two Critical Phases of Early Orthodontic Treatment for Kids:

  • The First Phase: Interceptive
  • The Second Phase: Completion of bite correction and alignment
    Optimum treatment results can be obtain when both phases are completed.

The Completion Phase (Phase II treatment) begins when most or all of the permanent teeth have erupted, typically at the age of 12-13 years old. In Phase II treatment, braces are placed on all the teeth with treatment time ranging from 12 to 22 months (to finalize and finish what we’ve started in phase I).

Goals for the Completion (Phase II) treatment are also very specific:

  • To align all permanent teeth (ideal esthetic alignment)
  • Obtain ideal function/stability by completion of bite correction

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