Interceptive orthodontic treatment for children

Posted on Feb 17, 2021 in News

Interceptive orthodontics is the early diagnosis of children’s future dental problems, such as overbites, underbites, jaw deformities and crowded teeth. As a result, these problems can be treated and even prevented before adult teeth grow in. Having trained in both the UK and the US, Dr Moira Wong has a lot of dentistry and orthodontic expertise to share about the benefits of interceptive orthodontics, the risks of not receiving it and all the facts you need to know.

What is interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics, also referred to as phase 1 orthodontics, is a form of early diagnosis for children’s future dental problems. With this early diagnosis, an orthodontist can prepare the child’s jaw for when their adult teeth grow in.

Once the adult teeth come through, the orthodontist will then begin to correct the teeth that need it, and this is referred to as phase 2 orthodontics. If phase 1 orthodontics has been carried out phase 2 will be much simpler. Phase 2 is more commonly known in the UK compared to phase 1, which isn’t routinely performed in the UK.

Do children need to lose all their baby teeth before receiving treatment?

In some cases after early diagnosis, an orthodontist has to wait for all the adult teeth to come in before starting orthodontic treatment, in other cases, they’ll want to start early before all of the teeth come in, in order to ensure that the teeth grow into a better position.

Why is early orthodontic treatment important for children?

Early orthodontic treatment is important due to its benefits:

  • By carrying out orthodontic treatment from a young age, future dental problems can be diagnosed early, addressed and/or reduced in complexity.
  • It can also be a method of prevention, although this depends on each specific case.
  • Phase 1 orthodontics often means that patients will have a shorter duration of treatment in phase 2, the corrective phase.

What are examples of problems that can be fixed by interceptive orthodontics?

When an orthodontist analyses a child’s teeth and finds that they’re crowded, they may carry out arch expansion to create the space that their adult teeth are going to need. This ensures that the adult teeth grow into a more optimal and aesthetically pleasing position.

If the jaw is out of line, an orthodontist might carry out jaw modification therapy, so that the jaw grows into line. By limiting and enhancing jaw growth, the risk of underbites and overbites is lessened.

It’s also possible to diagnose missing teeth early. Approximately 6% of the population have an adult tooth that never grows in to replace a baby tooth. In this case, treatment options involve closing the space that the missing adult tooth will leave, or replacing it with a false tooth.

Risks of not seeking interceptive orthodontic treatment

By waiting for a child’s jaw and teeth to develop before diagnosing dental problems, it’s more likely that adult teeth will need to be extracted during phase 2 in order to treat dental problems that could have been treated without extracting teeth, had the patient received interceptive treatment.

When a child doesn’t receive interceptive treatment, as an adult it’s more likely that their adult teeth will revert to their previous position after having been corrected. The teeth have been allowed to grow into a crowded environment rather than creating space into which these teeth can grow.

At what age should I take my child to the orthodontist?

Interceptive treatment generally starts with children who are eight years old so that the orthodontist can examine how their jaw and teeth are currently developing. At this age, the dental problems they’ll have over the next four or five years are identifiable. In the US the American Orthodontic Society recommends that all children are seen for an assessment no later than seven years old to understand the way in which the child’s teeth and jaws are growing in order to make an early diagnosis.

Is there a common cause for dental issues in children?

When the teeth or jaw aren’t growing as they should, it’s usually due to genetics, or an environmental factor such as thumb sucking.

What type of braces is best for my child?

There are many types of braces, so what’s important is to find the right type of brace for each individual. There’s a lot on the market, and the professional will advise you based on the patient, the patient’s tolerances and the level of restriction needed.

How much do braces cost for children and how long do they have to keep them in?

The cost depends on various factors:

  • The patient
  • The issue (creating space, symmetry, correcting a bite etc.)
  • The duration of treatment
  • The idea is to prevent or correct dental irregularities as much as possible, and so the professional will advise you on the length of time needed for braces

Dr Moira Wong knows it’s difficult to treat children who don’t want braces, so she limits phase 1 treatment to around one year but no longer, so that children don’t get too frustrated.

Dr Wong’s personal treatment philosophy

From experience, Dr Moira Wong knows that typically, interceptive orthodontic treatment is something that’s performed routinely in the US. They are keen on prevention and optional treatments. Phase 1 orthodontics is not particularly taught in the UK.

Her own personal treatment philosophy is to make use of the advantages of both US and UK treatment philosophy. She does where indicated make use of the benefits of phase 1 and 2 orthodontics where most suited but limits treatment time in both phases to ensure that treatment is not protracted and the children are happy to see the changes without challenging their cooperation too much.

Dr Moira Wong is an expert in all aspects of dentistry. If you’re considering interceptive treatment for your child, or looking for dental treatment for yourself, don’t hesitate to book a consultation via her Top Doctors profile .

If you have dental concerns, please make an appointment with us.
Dr. Moira Wong – Orthodontist

An exceptionally skilled orthodontist who simply loves to improve the smiles of adults and children.

Dr Moira Wong (GDC no: 67960, UK) developed an ambition to specialise in the field of orthodontics during her time as a dentistry student at the London Hospital Medical College. After graduating in 1994, she gained experience in all fields of dentistry prior to specialisation. This included working as part of the Pennstar trauma team at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr Wong’s career pathway began with a spell as a house officer in prosthetic dentistry at the Royal London Hospital, followed by senior house officer positions at the Bristol Dental Hospital. During this period she gained her fellowship in dental surgery and worked in the paediatric dentistry department, treating special needs children and addressing complicated developmental problems. She also worked with adults requiring the replacement of multiple teeth.

Returning to London to take up a position as a senior house officer in oral surgery, Dr Wong gained experience in dental and facial surgery. One of her busiest nights was helping with the suturing of patients following a national rail crash.

Dr Wong was then accepted onto the specialty training programme at Guy’s Hospital, where she spent a further three years gaining her master’s degree. She continued onto a consultant training programme at King’s College and St George’s Hospital, gaining her Fellowship in orthodontics. Currently less than 300 UK practitioners have this level of training, with just 5 to 10 people gaining the accreditation in an average year.

Today, Dr Wong has acquired an excellent reputation for her highly sophisticated work and approachable, communicative manner. Her ambition is to be recognised as nothing less than the best orthodontist in London.