What Are Early Orthodontic Treatments?

What are early orthodontic treatments?

Some orthodontic issues are easier to treat and correct if they are detected early on. This is called interceptive orthodontics and it helps prevent more severe issues from showing up later. Pediatric dentists know what to look for even if your child only has a couple permanent teeth that have erupted.

Does your child need Phase I interceptive orthodontics? What does Phase I even mean and what does it help treat? All these questions will be answered in this article so you can better understand what may be recommended for your child’s oral health in the future.

What are Phase I and II orthodontics?

Phase I (interceptive treatment) is orthodontic treatment that is done before all of the permanent teeth have erupted — this phase happens between the ages of 6 and 10. Phase I is suggested when there is a moderate to severe issue that cannot wait until all the permanent teeth have come in. 

Phase II is the orthodontic treatment that most people are familiar with and occurs once all permanent teeth have come in. Phase II is when braces are placed on the child’s upper and/or lower teeth. Not only does this phase correct spaces and fix misaligned teeth, but it also corrects overbite or underbite issues the child may have. This phase usually starts around the ages of 11 or 12.

How old should my child be when they see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child have their first check-up with a qualified orthodontist no later than age 7. This age is chosen because by then, your child will have enough permanent teeth for the orthodontist to be able to evaluate your child’s orthodontic trajectory. The orthodontist can check the jaw structure of your child and how straight (or crooked) their permanent teeth are coming in.

What are Phase I treatments?

Treatments at this early stage are called Phase I interceptive orthodontics. Here the instruments you can expect to hear about when you visit the pediatric orthodontist:

  • Specialized retainers that only cover the permanent teeth to straighten crooked teeth after braces come off.
  • Headgear to help correct overbites and underbites.
  • Limited Phase Braces that are placed on specific teeth only.
  • Space Maintainers are devices used to leave enough space open for permanent teeth to grow in after primary teeth are lost early.

What are the issues that interceptive orthodontics can fix?

The kinds of problematic issues that your child’s orthodontist may recommend getting treatment for while they still have some baby teeth include:

  • Underbites 
  • Crossbites (shifting of jaw when they bite down)
  • Missing or lost teeth
  • Excessively spaced out teeth
  • Teeth that don’t meet at all or meet abnormally in the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Speech impediments    
  • Crowded teeth

What are the benefits of interceptive orthodontics?

  • Aligned and properly spaced out adult teeth
  • Ensures a confident smile while growing into their permanent teeth
  • Promotes proper jaw growth
  • Reduces the risk of teeth grinding (bruxing)
  • Reduces the risk of cavities, gum disease and tooth decay
  • Reduced risk of impacted teeth
  • Reduced risk of speech issues

Will my child need Phase II?

Less severe orthodontic issues can be fixed with Phase I treatment, but your child may need to move onto Phase II, which is braces. Just think of Phase II as the natural next step for your child’s oral health. Also, braces today look much different than back when parents were kids, so your child will be able to customize them with looks and colors which will make it easier aesthetically as well. Braces help make sure that all the progress your child’s teeth made in Phase I continues to get even better. Braces have several benefits, such as:

  • Moving permanent teeth into their final positions
  • Continuing to improve teeth functions and facial appearance
  • Corrects minor bite issues
  • Helps with child’s self-esteem by giving the straight teeth and jawline 


Interceptive orthodontics helps prevent more severe problems from surfacing later on in your child’s life by taking preemptive measures early. By age 7, your child’s mouth is grown enough to where your dentist or orthodontist will know if Phase I is right for them. Taking these precautions early will help your child grow into their smile easily and comfortably. Make sure to have your dentist evaluate your child while their primary teeth are still in to see if you may need help from an orthodontist and to keep the more major issues at bay for your child. 

Does Your Child Need Help With Their Smile?

Here at Chillicothe Pediatric Dentistry, we work with children every day and help to navigate them through the process of receiving dental care, and teaching them that going to the dentist is nothing to fear. Our dentists have extensive experience in the development of your child’s teeth and jaw. We pride ourselves in providing the best pediatric dental services in Ross County and its surrounding areas.

Whether your child needs primary, preventative, restorative or surgical dental care, our skilled and compassionate team are here for your children. Chillicothe Pediatric Dentistry takes pride in providing the best dental care for children in Ross County and its surrounding areas. Call our offices to speak with one of our helpful staff members and book an appointment today!