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Child and Early Phase Orthodontics

Orthodontics is most commonly associated with straightening the teeth of adolescents and teenagers—patients who have most of their adult teeth. However, there are many reasons why your child may benefit from treatment prior to this stage of development. Our orthodontist, Dr. Ben Chan, offers early phase orthodontics, also known as interceptive orthodontics for children who are approximately six years old and up. This approach is designed to correct jaw problems and malocclusion by working with the body’s natural growth process. In addition to potentially reducing discomfort for the child, our two-phase technique can also achieve an improved outcome compared with a single later-stage procedure for patients with certain needs.

We are dedicated to giving your family the care, attention, and results you deserve.

Aligning teeth is about much more than attaining a beautiful, balanced smile. This treatment can also correct functional concerns that could cause problems eating and speaking. Furthermore, there are some tooth conditions that can cause irreversible damage to the surrounding environment if left unattended. If you have additional questions about whether early phase orthodontics may be right for your child, contact us today. We are happy to provide more information or to schedule your consultation with our skilled orthodontist.

How Does Early Phase Orthodontics Work?

Signs of developing tooth and jaw problems are often identifiable from a young age. Sometimes the upper and/or lower jaw may grow faster or slower than what is appropriate, which can cause an imbalance (malocclusion). To address this issue, orthodontic appliances can be utilized to bring the upper and lower jaw into better symmetry. The appliances (which can include traditional braces, headgear, palatal expanders, and removable appliances) work with your child’s natural development. As a result, the gradual adjustment in jaw size and shape usually will be smoother and more comfortable than trying to make the same changes when the adult teeth have erupted. Also, some of these changes can only be made at or before your child’s growth spurt. Sometimes the need to remove permanent teeth due to crowding is significantly reduced. Additionally, early intervention may provide relief to teasing from peers based on your child’s appearance, allowing them to avoid psychosocial trauma during this important stage of development. With this strong foundation, the second phase of orthodontics may be faster and more pleasant, something we know your child—and you—will likely appreciate.

When you and your child arrive for your initial consultation, we will diligently and attentively build a comprehensive picture of your child’s current and future anatomical needs. We will then develop a detailed, individualized plan that may include early phase treatment. After the early intervention orthodontics phase is complete, there will be a resting period. During this stage, we will monitor the growth and development of your child’s oral structures with periodic check-ups. When most or all of the adult teeth have erupted, if it is indicated, he or she can begin the second phase of the procedure, which is designed to shift the teeth into their final position.

Every child’s needs and goals are unique. Early phase orthodontics is one more way we can help your child achieve a strong, healthy, and beautiful smile for life.

I took my 4 year-old daughter for her first ever dentist appointment today. Her Dental Hygenist Liz was so outgoing and very welcoming. She made us feel like we had been going there forever. And Dr. Chan was great with her as well. My daughter really enjoyed her first experience today! Great place.

Ally Ethier
June 01, 2017

What Are the Advantages of Early Phase Orthodontics?

This process is designed to identify developing oral concerns and minimize or eliminate their occurrence. Many patients who utilize early phase orthodontics have an easier, more comfortable experience both initially and later on if they need a second phase of treatment. They are also less likely to need to have teeth pulled to make room in their mouth for their adult teeth and structures. Not all children require early phase orthodontics, and our experienced orthodontist can determine if intervention is necessary and what kind, if so. By monitoring growth and development at all stages, we can help prevent serious problems.

Why Should Malocclusion Be Treated?

Malocclusion is not just a cosmetic concern. Misalignment of the teeth can contribute to a wide range of issues. Crowded teeth and cross-bites can make oral hygiene more difficult, leading to dental decay and gum disease. An unhealthy mouth can mean an unhealthy body, so it’s essential that children are able to properly clean every tooth. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to chipping. The normal wear and tear of the teeth also can be affected, causing asymmetry and additional problems. Furthermore, malocclusion can cause speech impediments and tongue-thrusting habits. During your initial consultation, we can evaluate your child’s mouth and determine if any of these common conditions may be a problem for your child and customize a treatment plan to address it.

What Are the Orthodontic Treatment Options for Children?

There are several orthodontic treatment options for children that can help guide their developing teeth and jaws into proper alignment and correct mild to severe orthodontic issues that have already become apparent. The best treatment option for your child’s needs can be determined upon evaluation during the initial consultation. Early phase orthodontics may involve orthodontic appliances such as fixed braces, removable appliances, headgear, or a palatal expander to assist natural development and reduce the severity of potential orthodontic problems later, as well as make any second-phase treatment (if necessary) faster and easier. In some cases, a single early phase of treatment may be enough to ensure proper orthodontic development, and it may only require partial braces or a focus on more specific areas of the mouth to enhance the relationship between the upper and lower dental arches. For others, the two-phase treatment process may be necessary. In the second phase, the permanent teeth have typically already erupted, and treatments such as a full set of braces, Invisalign®, or other types of orthodontic appliances may be recommended to bring the teeth and jaws into proper alignment.

Dr. Ben will explore all treatment options that may be appropriate for your child during the initial consultation and help you determine the best solution for your child.

What Happens if Treatment Is Put Off?

If there is an underlying concern and treatment is put off, it could mean that more invasive or complex treatment will be needed at a later date. The purpose of early phase orthodontics is not just cosmetic. It is also designed to guide the oral structures to develop in the healthiest and most anatomically appropriate way possible. By addressing these issues early on, you are also more likely to have long-lasting results.

Will My Child’s Teeth Straighten Out As They Grow?

Unfortunately not; this is not how oral structures work. Particularly with the front teeth, the space in this area will not increase, and will even begin to decrease with time once the permanent molars have erupted. Early phase orthodontics can position your teeth to achieve optimal alignment so that there is sufficient room in the mouth for the teeth. It can help reduce gaps, crowding, over-, under-, or cross-bites, and other types of malocclusion.

How Much Do Orthodontics Cost?

As every treatment plan is tailored to suit the unique needs of the patient, the price of orthodontics will vary from person to person. Some of the factors we consider are the complexity of the case, how long the child will need to wear orthodontic appliances, and which type of appliances are used. According to the Consumer Guide for Dentistry, child orthodontics can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000. The best way to find out the cost of orthodontics for your child is to schedule a consultation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Ben. Braces are an investment in your young one’s health and well-being. We believe everyone should have access to the best care possible, and we are happy to discuss financing options with you during your initial appointment.

For more information about early phase orthodontics, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ben Chan, please contact our office today.