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The goal of orthodontics is to correct a malocclusion, a bad bite. Teeth may be crowded or crooked. The upper and lower jaws may be out of alignment. Occasionally, even when teeth appear straight, the patient may have an uneven bite which may cause further dental problems. Genetics, development, or poor oral habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting can cause malocclusion.

Orthodontic treatment seeks to address any or all of these problems. The goal of orthodontic treatment is not only to create an attractive smile but to develop a bite that can promote oral health. Straight, uncrowded teeth are a lot easier to keep clean. Crooked, crowded teeth are more difficult to maintain, leading to tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Orthodontics utilizes physics to slowly move teeth into the proper position using corrective appliances, including braces and retainers. Using bonding technology, we place brackets on the teeth. Then, we thread archwires through these brackets.

The tension and tightness of these wires determine the individual movement of each tooth. Orthodontics applies constant pressure on each tooth in the desired direction. Making adjustments to the pressure at follow-up visits, our orthodontists control the slow movement of the teeth until they correct the malocclusion.

Generally speaking, orthodontic treatment can last from 1-3 years or longer, depending on the patient’s age and severity of the malocclusion. Often, patients wear retainers to ensure teeth remain in their new position after braces have been removed.

Interceptive Orthodontics

Historically, most patients did not commence orthodontic treatment until all of their permanent teeth erupted. Then, they had a malocclusion diagnosed and addressed at ages 12-14. Waiting this long often necessitated the extraction of several permanent teeth to create space for orthodontic movement.

More extensive movement necessitated the use of headgear and other orthodontic appliances. It was noted that teen cooperation in wearing such appliances was often problematic. Early intervention and phased treatment can result in fewer extracted teeth and better patient compliance.

The interceptive orthodontics technique and philosophy developed to address certain orthodontic problems between the ages of 7-11. Some techniques used in this interceptive orthodontic phase include arch expansion. This allows more room for permanent teeth and orthopedic growth appliances. This enhances jaw growth and makes later orthodontic treatment simpler.

These early interventions act as Phase 1 of a two-step orthodontic treatment. Phase 2 occurs closer to the time when standard orthodontics generally takes place. Interceptive orthodontic techniques allow Phase 2 of the treatment to become simpler, less extensive, and less expensive.

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