Some orthodontic issues are easier to correct if treatment is done at an early age. This type of treatment is called early interceptive treatment, or phase I treatment and the goal is to correct certain problems early enough as to guide the erupting adult teeth into position or correct jaw discrepancies as to avoid more extensive treatment later on.
Children should visit an orthodontist by the age of seven. This can help an orthodontist discover any underlying issues that may cause a big problem in the future, such as jaw irregularities, overcrowding, missing teeth, or harmful oral habits.
There are many benefits to early treatment. An orthodontist can help guide permanent teeth to a more desirable place, correct bite problems, and guide the growth of the jaw to accommodate the emerging permanent teeth. One of the biggest benefits to beginning orthodontic treatment early is the straightening phase can often be less complicated, shorter, and less expensive than it otherwise might be without early treatment.
While you may think seven is early to see an orthodontist, phase I treatment is actually intended to occur before all of the permanent teeth have erupted, and usually occurs between the ages of six and 10. At this time, we can determine if there are issues that, if left on their own, could worsen and create a more complicated orthodontic issue in the future.
Braces are an important part of orthodontic treatment, but they can only work within the constraints of the patient’s jaw, and if patients wait until later in their teen years, we lose the element of “growth” and it can often be too late to correct jaw issues without extractions or surgery. Phase I treatment allows us to help guide the growth of the jaw and improve the relationship of the jaws. We can determine if one jaw is growing at a different pace than the other, and then work to ensure the jaws grow together in harmony.
Phase I treatment typically lasts between nine and 18 months, after which time we will fit your child with a retainer or place spacers in the mouth to allow for all of the permanent teeth to erupt properly before moving on to phase II, or the straightening phase, of treatment.
Dr. Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist and specializes in comprehensive orthodontic care for the whole family. For any Questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic consultation please contact our office at 661-222-7444 or visit us at www.salmassianortho.com