Interceptive Orthodontics

dentist discusses treatment plan

With interceptive orthodontics, we hope to avoid or minimize treatment during the teen years by influencing the development of the jaw as it is still forming. This is the new standard for orthodontic care and it has the ability to produce better results.

Also known as phase one orthodontics or early orthodontic treatment, interceptive orthodontics usually involves one or more appliances to guide jaw development or prevent problems from occurring. Our practice uses the following interceptive orthodontic treatments:

Habit Appliances

One of the first instincts newborns have is to self-soothe by sucking—in fact, many start their thumb-sucking habits while still in the womb! This habit can carry through to the toddler and preschool years and when it does, it may begin to impact jaw development and tooth alignment. Habit appliances are used to stop this behavior; they can also retrain an improper tongue position or swallowing pattern. Habit appliances are usually banded to the back molars and must be removed by a dentist.  We usually have an orthodontist fabricate this appliance if we feel it is necessary.

Space Maintainers

When a baby tooth is extracted or falls out before it should, we use a space maintainer to prevent adjacent teeth from moving into the newly-opened space. This ensures that there is room for the adult tooth to erupt and prevents future orthodontic problems. Space maintainers can be made of stainless steel or plastic and they are fixed to the teeth.  If your child has a space maintainer, it is very important that they avoid sticky foods and candy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Interceptive Orthodontics

What is the purpose of interceptive orthodontic treatment?

The purpose of interceptive orthodontic treatment is to influence the jaw as it develops. During childhood, the jaw has not yet fused together; this gives us the opportunity to ensure that it forms correctly with the use of interceptive orthodontic appliances. Doing this may eliminate the need for braces later or reduce the amount of time needed for them.

What is the best age for orthodontic treatment?

Children as young as five may start interceptive orthodontics treatment. Depending on your child’s needs and the devices used in their treatment, we may want to see them for office visits as frequently as every four weeks, or only every few months to monitor development.   However, there are few instances your child will need orthodontic care at this age.   We will generally advise you of any serious orthodontic conditions that may require an earlier referral.

How much is a dental space maintainer?

The cost varies depending on your child’s needs. We can provide you with an estimate prior to treatment.