Most people are familiar with traditional orthodontic care that straightens teeth using braces or other corrective devices. However, this kind of Orthodontia only addresses the symptoms of improper bite alignment but not the underlying problem. Children, in particular, need to be evaluated early for potential orthodontic issues in order to minimize the need for more extensive correction later. Interceptive orthodontic care can address potential problems in childhood to prevent them from becoming dire problems in adulthood.
What is Interceptive Orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics is meant to prevent the progression of malocclusion, poor facial and jaw development and constricted airways. In the most extreme cases, interceptive measures could include extraction. However, ideally, interceptive orthodontics should help to avoid extraction by utilizing less invasive means, such as guidance of facial growth, eliminating poor oral habits which can affect growth of teeth and jaws, and developing the arches to accomodate a full set of permanent teeth. In fact, intercepting malocclusion before it gets worse will save the patient money in the long run, as well as improve the aesthetics of the face by fixing a recessed jaw. Interceptive orthodontics can be performed on either baby teeth or adult teeth in children.
Benefits Beyond Aesthetics
As mentioned above, interception of malocclusion can have the added benefit of making a patient look better by aligning the jaw, fixing a recessed chin, or making room in the mouth. Looks, however, aren't everything, and there are real physical benefits to interceptive orthodontics that reach beyond aesthetics. A recessed jaw, for example, can press into the throat, causing the airway passage to be blocked. This, in turn, can lead to other afflictions such as sleep apnea (the periodic inability to breathe while asleep). Mouth breathing can also create sleeping disorders, as well as inflammation and nasal polyps.
Creating room in the mouth for teeth to grow in correctly is the ultimate goal of interceptive orthodontics, which could also improve the shape of the face for someone with a small mouth. Furthermore, interception may help a child avoid braces later in adolescence, which will both save the parent money and the child the stress of an extensive daily dental regime.
Ending Bad Habits
Habits that affect the growth of teeth and the alignment of the jaw are developed early in life. Thumb sucking, the use of pacifiers and manufactured nipples, thrusting the tongue into the front teeth while swallowing, and breathing out of the mouth can have serious future consequences, dentally-speaking. Part of interceptive orthodontics includes teaching children to end these mouth-altering habits with habit-breaking devices. These devices include:
- The T4K Training System: A single device that requires no molding or impressions, the Trainer aligns teeth, acts as a habit-breaker for tongue thrusting, and prevents mouth breathing. The Training System is suitable for most age groups.
- The MyoBrace System: This system is an advanced device that performs all of the functions of the T4K, but also improves alignment and development of the arch. The MyoBrace is available in stages for Junior, Kids, Teens, and Adults.
Outside of habit breaking devices, other devices to stop malocclusion include expansion appliances, which creates room in the upper jaw by widening the dental arch.
Financial Advantages to Early Evaluation and Interceptive Orthodontics
Due to its non-invasive and surgery-free nature, interceptive orthodontics can yield long term financial benefits for the parents of a young patient with malocclusion. Braces, extractions, and multiple treatments can start to add up, and even if a patient has dental insurance coverage, some plans will only cover a certain amount of procedures each year, with subsequent procedures having to be paid for out-of-pocket. Additionally, interceptive orthodontics focuses on providing an holistic approach to malocclusion, starting with treatment of the underlying cause.
We've all heard the expression, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This is particularly true in children with early-onset orthodontic issues. While it's not always possible to stop a problem from occurring, taking your child in for an early evaluation and interceptive orthodonic treatment can stop malocclusion dead in its tracks, avoiding invasive, expensive curative treatments in the future.