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Early Treatment (Phase I)

Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

Most kids do not need Phase I treatment. Therefore, when we see kids who do not need Phase I, we do not start treatment at a young age. With those patients, Dr. Crain follows them periodically and starts treatment at the right time. This goes back to one of our guiding principles: Trust. You can trust us to start your child's treatment when it is best for your child.

In particularly severe cases and with some specific problems, Dr. Crain will recommend Phase I treatment. We recommend Phase I treatment in those times when waiting until an older age will be detrimental for the child. Some of the most common examples are:

  • Crossbite: Crossbite occurs when an upper or lower tooth is closer to the cheek or the tongue than the tooth opposite it when the jaw is shut. Dr. Crain may recommend an orthodontic appliance known as a palatal expander. The palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made.
  • Teeth Overcrowding: Overcrowding can occur if your child's permanent teeth cannot all fit due to his or her jaw being too small. A palatal expander may be recommended in this scenario, or in some cases, tooth extraction to make room. Doing this at a young age can be a big benefit for some kids.
  • Protruding Teeth: If your child's teeth stick out, they are at an increased risk of becoming chipped or broken. Protruding teeth can sometimes lead to issues with speaking clearly and chewing. Addressing protruding teeth at a young age will reduce the chance for trauma to the protrusive teeth. Additionally, correcting a severe jaw overbite at a young age can help to avoid surgery later in life. Protruding teeth can sometimes be related to a thumb or finger habit. Please see below for more information on habits.

Thumb Sucking

Take note of how your child sucks his or her thumb. If the sucking is passive, with the thumb gently resting inside the mouth, it is less likely to cause damage. If, on the other hand, the thumb sucking is aggressive, placing pressure on the mouth or teeth, the habit may cause problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth. Extended sucking affects both the teeth and the shape of the face and may lead to a need for orthodontic treatment in the future.

If at any time you suspect your child's thumb sucking may be affecting his or her oral health, please give us a call and schedule a visit. We can help you assess the situation.

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