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An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when it comes to your child’s smile. That’s precisely why the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child visits the orthodontist by age 7. Parents are increasingly following advice to seek interceptive orthodontic treatment as a way to detect, identify, and correct structural problems in the mouth while a child’s teeth and jaw are still developing. In many cases, this can help to prevent a need for more complex interventions as children reach their teen years. Early intervention can be crucial for giving your child the benefit of having a confident smile throughout high school, college, and beyond!

What Is Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment is a process of evaluating, diagnosing, treating, and preventing adolescent orthodontic problems in their earliest stages. It is used to address orthodontic problems that are inherited, caused by accidents, or the results of dental disease.

First, it’s important to say that not every child that sees an orthodontist by age seven will necessarily need treatment. Instead, a visit may simply offer confirmation that everything is coming along swimmingly with your child’s smile! 

Interceptive treatment allows your child to have the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful, and pain-free smile throughout childhood, teen years, and adulthood. If a problem is detected, your orthodontist will recommend one of two routes. The first is to simply point out treatments that your child will likely need in the future once the face and jaw have finished growing. This usually involves a plan for monitoring progress using periodic appointments. The second course of action is an early intervention that can help stop, prevent, or correct an issue while an immature jaw is still “malleable.”

What Problems Can Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment Fix?

Interceptive treatment can be used to address a variety of issues covering both health and aesthetic concerns. In many cases, early orthodontic treatment can prevent serious problems that will require extensive and complex correction at an older age from developing or progressing. Here’s a look at what we use interceptive orthodontic treatments for here at Loudoun Orthodontics:

  • Protecting protruding teeth from trauma.
  • Creating space for adult teeth.
  • Improving facial symmetry.
  • Guiding permanent teeth into better positions.
  • Improving how the lips meet.
  • Addressing impediments to chewing and speaking.
  • Reducing risks for common oral health issues like cavities and bruxism (teeth grinding).

In some cases, an evaluation simply allows us to point out oral habits that can cause costly tooth problems down the road that parents and children may be overlooking today. This can be something as simple as your child grinding their teeth at night. An interceptive treatment orthodontic specialist can identify those telltale signs very early on!

What Are Some Common Orthodontic Treatments for Kids?

Awareness of a problem is always the first step to helping a child enjoy a healthy, attractive smile they can be proud of for life. That’s why getting that first visit before age seven is essential even when no “visible” problems are present. For some young patients, monitoring the situation while waiting for the mouth and jaw to reach full growth is all that’s necessary for the immediate future. 

Orthodontists have a wide variety of corrective and preventative options to use on baby teeth. The most common early orthodontic treatments are dental appliances like palatal expanders, partial braces, and retainers. These options can all be used to address jaw and alignment issues before permanent teeth are set in place. It’s also possible that removing baby teeth will be recommended to help create a better path for permanent teeth to come in based on a patient’s growth and development.

Which Orthodontic Problems Should Be Fixed While a Child Still Has Baby Teeth?

Many parents understandably want to know if it’s worth correcting an orthodontic issue when a child still has baby teeth. Studies show that interceptive orthodontic treatment is effective for improving malocclusion (misalignment). The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends treating the following conditions while a child still has some baby teeth:

  • Underbites
  • Crossbites
  • Crowding
  • Excessively spaced teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Teeth that meet abnormally
  • Teeth that don’t meet

Interceptive orthodontic treatment also provides a significant opportunity to identify if thumb sucking, finger sucking, pacifier use, or related habits could be impacting tooth and jaw growth. Correction for typical adolescent orthodontic issues caused by habits often becomes more complicated once adult teeth have grown. Therefore, it’s important to remember that interceptive treatments involving baby teeth are always done conservatively.

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Choose Loudoun Orthodontics for Your Orthodontic Treatment!

Book your complimentary consultation to discuss interceptive orthodontic treatment with us here at Loudoun Orthodontics in Lansdowne, Virginia! We understand the concerns parents have about making the right choices for correcting early dental issues. That’s why we’re committed to helping you learn about the best options for taking small steps today to give your child the benefits of a beautiful smile for life! In addition, we offer a friendly environment where families feel welcomed! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health!