Early Treatment

Early Treatment (Two-Phase Treatment)

Amazing advances in technology have brought the profession of orthodontics (braces) to a new age. No longer is treatment limited to teenagers, but is available to adults of all ages and to children very early in their life. It is the early treatment stage that I would like to discuss. For many years orthodontists waited until all the permanent teeth were in to begin treatment of children. However, there are many disadvantages. In many cases, permanent teeth needed to be removed in order to gain enough room to align the teeth properly. Adverse growth patterns such as overbite, underbite, and narrow arches will worsen. Harmful habits: thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, and mouth breathing will persist.

The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) now recommends that every child be seen by the Orthodontist by age 7-8. While most children do not need early intervention, for those that do, taking advantage of active growth and development of the face and jaws during these early years allows us to prevent and improve many conditions which are impossible to correct or even improve once growth of the jaws is complete (often during puberty).

  1. Broaden narrow or “V” shaped dental arches resulting in beautiful, full adult smiles and less aging.
  2. Make enough room so that permanent teeth no longer need to be removed in the vast majority of cases. 
  3. Correct or prevent impacting permanent teeth.
  4. Correct adverse habits such as tongue thrusts, thumb sucking and mouth breathing
  5. Assist in airway issues such as snoring, mouth breathing and sleep apnea.
  6. Encourage growth of the arches to help correct significant overbite or underbite
  7. Ensure that the patient develops the most pleasing face possible and a beautiful, fuller  natural smile. This provides better lip support and less aging later in life.

The goal of early active treatment is mainly orthopedic. That is, we concentrate on the proper development of the upper and lower jaws. The tooth straightening portion of orthodontic treatment has also been revolutionized. Space age wires (titanium) allow us to treat in fewer visits with less interruption of school and work schedules and with very little discomfort for the patient. It is easy to see what a wonderful investment early orthodontic treatment is.

Most first-phase treatment takes 12-18 months. Once our goals have been achieved, your child will wear a retainer nightly and will be seen every 4 months (at no charge), until the permanent teeth erupt and Stage II begins. On all Stage I treatment plans, your child’s upper front teeth will be straightened and look great.