Orthodontics is the discipline of correcting the alignment of teeth to improve both the bite and appearance.
Many patients will remember that they first received orthodontic treatment when they were about 12 to 14 years old, once they had all their permanent teeth. Now, the new standard is to conduct an orthodontic assessment by the time a child turns 7 and to approach any treatment in phases. Treating children at an earlier age (for example to correct a bite problem or overcrowding) is beneficial because the child is still growing and it can prevent serious problems from developing in later years. Interceptive orthodontic treatment may not eliminate the need for braces or retainers altogether but it supports treatment later on and minimizes the impact of any corrections, making them less complicated and faster.
Interceptive orthodontics can correct problems that arise from:
- Thumb sucking and pacifier use (resulting in misshapen jawbones, misaligned teeth, narrow dental arches, tongue thrust problems, protruding front teeth, and open bites)
- Cross bites
- Tooth crowding
- Uneven upper and lower jaws
Interceptive orthodontics provide the optimal conditions for good jaw alignment and bite development. The benefits include creating more room for permanent teeth, improved appearance and self-esteem, facial symmetry, straighter and better-positioned teeth, fewer tooth extractions, improved chewing, and less dental decay and periodontal disease later in life.
If braces or other appliances for correction are required, patients may be referred to a specialist depending on their needs.