What Are Interceptive Orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics is used to correct bite problems during childhood. It takes advantage of bone growth to simplify treatment. Find out more in the following article!
What Are Interceptive Orthodontics?

Last update: 14 August, 2021

Interceptive orthodontics is a treatment in which appliances are used to correct occlusion problems during childhood when the bone’s still growing. Oral health care from an early age is essential to promoting children’s health and well-being.

For this reason, it’s advisable to consult the dentist to detect any abnormality in time and to carry out an effective treatment.

Interceptive orthodontics is an early intervention to resolve bite alterations promptly. Thus, it prevents the progression of situations that result in more accentuated anomalies and require more complicated, invasive, and costly treatments.

What’s more, resolving malocclusions improves the function, esthetics, and dental health of children.

What does this orthodontic treatment consist of?

Find out here!

What is interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive or early orthodontics is a treatment with oral appliances that are performed during childhood. Its objective, as the name suggests, is to intercept abnormal growth of the maxillofacial structure to guide proper bone development.

It’s used to improve bone, muscle, and tooth development before the completion of the eruption of the permanent dentition. By controlling the size and position of the jaws as they develop, more severe occlusion problems are prevented in the future.

In this way, complex, long, and costly treatments that are used when the bone has completed its growth won’t be necessary. There are different types of appliances, such as the following:

  • Removable expansion plates
  • Disjunctors
  • Extraoral arches
  • Facial masks
  • Elastic or rigid functional appliances

A professional can combine and design these elements according to the needs and particularities of each patient.

A child putting a orthodontic appliance in his mouth.
The objective of interceptive orthodontics is to correct malocclusion problems that develop in childhood.

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When is interceptive orthodontics necessary?

Once the pediatric dentist diagnoses an occlusal anomaly, treatment with interceptive orthodontics will be necessary. It’s important to note that regular visits to the dentist during childhood will allow early detection of any malocclusion.

Ideally, a consultation with this professional should be requested before a child’s first birthday. Then, visits should be made every six months to follow up on the condition and development of the mouth. This way, the professional can evaluate if the bone growth’s adequate or if there’s a need for a consultation with the orthodontist.

An evaluation of the occlusal situation with the orthodontist is opportune from 6 years of age. This is when tooth replacement begins. The following are some of the problems that the use of interceptive orthodontics can correct:

  • Problems of skeletal origin: These are those alterations that originate in the bone. Bone growth is abnormal, which gives rise to problems such as crossbite, palatal gaps, open bite, or lower teeth biting in front of the upper teeth.
  • Problems that are functional in origin: These are problems caused by dysfunctional habits, such as mouth breathing, thumb sucking, prolonged use of bottles or pacifiers, and atypical swallowing.
  • Hereditary problems: These are alterations with a genetic component that affects the growth of the jaws. A certain shape or size of the bones is repeated in several members of the same family. In this case, treatments are usually more complex and longer-lasting.

Choosing the right appliance

The choice of the appliance model that a child will use will depend on the needs of each clinical case. Therefore, it’s possible to achieve the following:

  • The expansion of the jaws when the arch is very narrow.
  • Stimulating the growth of the mandible if it’s very small or slowing down its advance if it’s very prominent.
  • Create spaces for the correct eruption of permanent teeth or to solve crowding issues.

How long does treatment last?

In general, the duration of interceptive orthodontic treatment ranges from 6 to 18 months. However, this depends largely on the characteristics of the patient. Occasionally, more time may be necessary to complete the therapy and obtain results.

Among other things, the duration depends on the time the child spends using the appliances. Experts recommend wearing them in the mouth most of the day and using them intensively and continuously. With this, the treatment will be efficient and will last as long as stipulated, especially when the appliances are removable.

It’s important to clarify that interceptive orthodontic approaches consist of two phases. The first phase is immediately after the diagnosis of the malocclusion when the treatment with interceptive appliances begins.

At this stage, the child has most of the milk teeth in the mouth. The aim is to achieve correct chewing, correct dysfunctional habits, and stop the abnormal development of bone structures. In addition, it guides bone growth so that the definitive teeth can erupt in the proper position.

The second phase isn’t always necessary. It occurs when the child has grown and has completed their interceptive treatment. At this time, corrective orthodontics helps to complete and complement the treatment.

It’s important to note that the second phase will be simpler and more successful than if the previous step hadn’t taken place. Thus, the use of braces helps to improve the functionality of the mouth, facial appearance, or straighten some teeth.

A child sitting in a dentist's chair.
The duration of this treatment depends largely on the problem that the child has. It also varies according to care.

What are the benefits of interceptive orthodontics?

The main benefit of interceptive orthodontics is that it gets the bones in the right position, shape, and size at the time they’re growing. This improves the function and esthetics of the oral cavity, the child’s facial appearance, self-esteem, quality of life, and overall health.

It also prevents more severe anomalies and complications in the future. The following objectives are in mind when it comes to the placement of braces during childhood:

  • Achieving a correct relationship between the upper and lower jaw by slowing or stimulating their growth. As a result, interceptive orthodontics harmoniously matches the position and size of both bones.
  • Allowing the correct eruption of the permanent teeth.
  • Stabilizing the forces that chewing produces.
  • Preventing excessive wear of the teeth and problems in the supporting tissues.
  • Improving the appearance of the patient’s mouth and face. This has a positive impact on the child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Facilitating proper functioning of the temporomandibular joint.
  • Eliminating dysfunctional habits and correcting the occlusal problems they cause, such as prolonged use of bottles and pacifiers, finger sucking, oral breathing, and atypical swallowing.

Early consultation and intervention improve the quality of life of children

Visiting the dentist from an early age – and regularly – is essential to detect any problems in the growth of the maxillary bones in time. Intervening when the bone’s still growing prevents future complications and reduces the need for other more invasive treatments.

While some parents may worry if their children need orthodontics, there are actually many benefits to having braces. You just have to make sure to follow the care that the professional suggests to get the right results.

With interceptive orthodontics, not only will the advancement of malocclusion slow down, but improvements in oral health will also be achieved. Undoubtedly, this will translate into a better quality of life for the child.

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