What Is Preventive/Interceptive Orthodontics?

Preventive Orthodontics by Michael Bryant Orthodontics in Windsor Mill, MD

Many parents aren’t aware that the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children visit the orthodontist by the age of seven. This may seem young because in past years it was common for orthodontic treatment to be put off until the adolescent years. As the field of orthodontics has developed, orthodontic specialists have discovered that early preventive/interceptive orthodontics can be a key to preventing dental problems later in life. This approach to orthodontics seeks to identify any problems that patients may face concerning crowded teeth, crooked teeth, bite problems, or jaw malformation in childhood. Once identified, orthodontists can take steps to correct these problems before they become more pronounced. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

How Could Preventative Orthodontics Possibly Help My Child?

If your child is examined by an orthodontist, certain indicators will be present if your child could benefit from preventive orthodontics. One indicator would be the premature loss of baby teeth either from an accident or from severe tooth decay. An orthodontist can place spacers into the mouth that will prevent other baby teeth from shifting due to the gap left by the baby tooth that has either fallen out or been removed early.

Another possible indicator an orthodontist will look for in young children to see if they may benefit from preventive orthodontics would be oral habits such as chronic thumb sucking, finger sucking, lip biting, or fingernail biting. Though parents often seek to break these habits, they can be very difficult for some children to give up. If left unchecked, these habits can lead to such serious problems as extreme overbites and jaw malformation. To try to be proactive in actively preventing dental problems, an orthodontist can put an appliance into the child’s mouth that will make it easier for them to break these habits before they cause major dental problems.

What Can I Expect At My Child’s Initial Preventive Orthodontics Visit?

At their initial visit to the orthodontist some of the problems that could be detected would include:

  • Severe Overjet (protruding teeth) that might fracture incisors
  • Spacing that effects self-esteem
  • Sever crowding of teeth that will prohibit proper and timely eruption of adult teeth. Usually between the ages of 11-12 years old
  • Limited expansion needed and anterior crossbite

Each of these different oral abnormalities would be addressed on a case by case basis. At a child’s initial visit the orthodontist may recommend an interceptive orthodontics treatment, such as headgear, space maintainers, or a habit device. In such instances, the orthodontist will carefully explain the reason for the device, how it’s used, and the benefits of using the appliance.

Taking your child in for an orthodontic evaluation early in life could be crucial to preventing dental problems and more costly, extensive treatments in the future. We hope this information has been beneficial to you as you seek to provide your family members with the oral health care they need to thrive.