Often developing orthodontic problems can be recognized at an early age before all the adult teeth erupt. In younger patients, Phase I orthodontics, also called interceptive orthodontics, may be used to correct or lessen the developing dental and skeletal problems. The indications for interceptive orthodontics include:
When pronounced, it is unlikely these conditions will correct on their own. If left uncorrected and postponed until all the adult teeth erupt and jaw growth is complete, the options to resolve these problems become more limited. This can lead to compromised cosmetics and/or poor dental health or function.
The key to interceptive orthodontic treatment is timing. Early treatment during periods of rapid jaw growth and tooth development allows for more favorable final results. Most interceptive treatment is best started when the adult molars and incisors have erupted. This typically occurs between the ages of seven and ten years. Treatment may consist of braces, headgear, or removable appliances. The length of treatment varies, but usually lasts between 6 and 15 months.
The benefits of interceptive treatment include:
After completion of early orthodontic treatment, there is a monitoring of the growth and development of the teeth and jaws. Once the adult teeth have erupted, the need for Phase II, or comprehensive, orthodontic treatment is determined. Phase II treatment involves upper and lower braces to finalize smile esthetics and the positions of the newly erupted adult teeth. Proper management with early interceptive orthodontic treatment can simplify and occasionally eliminate the need for Phase II orthodontics depending on the severity of the initial problem, patient cooperation, and growth.