orthodontic practice

Early Interceptive Treatment (Pediatric Orthodontics)

At Ross Ortho, we understand the importance of setting a child up for a lifetime of oral health and a confident smile. That’s why we follow the advice of the American Association of Orthodontics, and recommend that your child have their first orthodontist visit by age seven. We’re excited to help you get started!

Why Age Seven?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the AAO’s recommendation does not mean braces are recommended at age seven. In most cases, the first orthodontist visit serves as just a foundation for long-term treatment plans. Identifying potential issues in a child’s orthodontic development can help prevent further problems in the future. In fact, early consultation can make eventual treatment a quicker and easier process.

For some children, treating orthodontic problems early provides the best overall outcome. This is where Phase 1 orthodontics come in: also known as pediatric orthodontics, Phase 1 treatment takes into consideration the remaining baby teeth, as well as future adult teeth, a child has so that later Phase 2 treatment is more successful. For children who benefit from Phase 1, the process ensures adequate room for adult teeth and can treat a range of pediatric orofacial problems.

Reasons for Early Interceptive Treatment

Because childrens’ jawbone and orofacial structures are not fully developed, correcting course early on may be necessary for the most effective treatment. While the AAO advises that all children have an orthodontic consultation by the age of seven, it’s especially important to schedule a visit if your child is experiencing discomfort or unusual development. 

Some examples of issues that may require Phase 1 treatment include crowding, premature or late loss of baby teeth, biting and chewing issues, difficulty with speech, misalignment of jaw and teeth, and other phenomena. 

Not every child will require Phase 1 treatment. For many patients, beginning treatment later in childhood, such as in early adolescence, may be more beneficial. However, if your child is in need of early orthodontic treatment, you can rest easy knowing that Ross Orthodontics is committed to making Phase 1 orthodontics comfortable and affordable for the whole family.

More Pediatric Orthodontics FAQs

What happens during Phase 1 treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment can look very different for each individual child. For some children, Phase 1 means reshaping the upper or lower jaw, or both jaws, to eliminate crowding or an improper bite. Addressing these spacing and bite issues early can make Phase 2 treatment much smoother down the road, as the patient has a strong foundation for further braces, aligners, expanders, or other treatment methods. 

Some devices are unique to early treatment. A space maintainer is an appliance that makes sure adequate space remains for an adult tooth to erupt. Space maintainers are used in instances where a baby tooth has been lost prematurely, before the adult tooth can fully develop. Without the intervention of treatment like space maintainers, premature baby tooth loss can cause crowding when the adult tooth develops and erupts at a later stage in growth. 

Palatal expanders are not exclusive to Phase 1 treatment, although they are often a crucial part of pediatric orthodontics. These devices slowly expand the upper jaw with the use of an expansion screw. This screw is periodically turned with a key, gradually pushing the sides of the palette apart. While expanders can seem intimidating at first, the slow, gentle approach of these devices ensure that the experience is as comfortable and painless as possible.

Does early interceptive treatment include braces?

Many children who undergo Phase 1 orthodontic treatment don’t have braces placed until Phase 2 treatment. The purpose of early treatment is to provide the right space and positioning for successful future treatment, which may only require devices like expanders or space maintainers. When braces are necessary, they may only be partial braces. Regardless of how braces are implemented in early orthodontics, traditional, fixed metal braces are usually optimal for pediatric treatment. Correcting foundational problems during this time with orthodontic devices can open up the possibility of using aligners or other forms of braces later on. 

Ultimately, what works for each child is dependent on their unique situation. Our pediatric orthodontist, Dr. Dennis P. Ross and our staff are experienced in providing high-quality orthodontic treatment. No matter your child’s needs, we’ll work with you to create an affordable, comprehensive treatment plan. Our positive, kid-friendly atmosphere will help put your little one at ease whether you’re just in for a consultation or undergoing early treatment!

Is early orthodontics more expensive?

When a parent learns their child will benefit from early interceptive orthodontics, one of their major concerns may be the affordability of treatment. Ross Orthodontics accepts most major insurances, and will work with you to make sure you understand your coverage and get all that you deserve. Additionally, we offer OrthoFi flexible financing, so that you can complete payments according to your budgeting needs. 

Depending on the needs of each individual child, Phase 1 treatment can actually be less expensive than traditional Phase 2 orthodontics. The advantages of early intervention often make overall treatment more affordable by addressing issues early. 

Ross Orthodontics, the Premier Choice for Early Treatment

Our team is uniquely experienced in providing orthodontic evaluation and treatment for patients of all ages. This includes young children, no matter what stage in orthodontic development. We’re here to design a treatment plan that is both conservative and comprehensive, specifically built to grow with your child and fit your family’s needs. We believe in transparency and communication, and will always work closely with you to decide upon the best approach. At Ross Orthodontics, you’ll always be informed and confident with our patient-centered practice. 

If it’s time for your child’s first orthodontic consultation– or your child is experiencing issues that may make them a candidate for early treatment– schedule an appointment with Ross Orthodontics today.