Interceptive orthodontics

What is interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics (sometimes called phase one or early treatment) typically begins around eight or nine. These processes help guide children’s teeth into a healthy pattern. Addressing these issues while their bones are growing gives us the ability to address things that, left unchecked, could require surgery and/or permanent teeth extraction.

In situations where the mouth has uneven development, growth, or abnormal teeth, early interceptive treatment can help realign the mouth with a more natural jaw and dental alignment. These procedures can help your child with crowded or misplaced teeth, overbites, underbites, and more!

With early treatment, we have the ability to take the least invasive approach to everything from making room for adult teeth to advancing and/or expanding your child’s jaw. While interceptive care helps set your kid up for a healthy smile, they may need more treatment once their permanent teeth come in.

Benefits of early orthodontic treatment

If Dr. Black determines your child needs to get started on their smile journey a little earlier than expected, don’t worry! Your child will get to unlock many benefits, including:

  • Unrestrained jaw and teeth growth
  • A better foundation for their permanent teeth
  • Less risk of orthodontic-related speech problems
  • Reduced gum, tooth, and jawbone injury
  • Improved facial symmetry
  • Reduced future treatment time

Interceptive orthodontics for kids

It’s a common belief that all of a child’s baby teeth must fall out before getting checked by an orthodontist. However, it’s best to have children examined earlier rather than later. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation occur no later than age seven.

When you have your child’s growth and dental development monitored at a young age, your orthodontist can advise you about any issues that might be on the horizon. Black Orthodontics offers a free Growth Guidance program where we monitor your child’s progress and identify any problem spots.

Some children may need a little help in creating the best foundation for their permanent teeth. Issues like spacing, bite patterns, and crowding can affect how their teeth emerge.

Luckily, early treatment options like early orthodontic intervention can effectively position the jaw and create a great place for emerging adult teeth. In some cases, the use of appliances like retainers and partial braces can even improve their future success! Patients who receive early orthodontic intervention often experience easier future treatments and they get to avoid painful permanent tooth extractions and jaw surgery.

Dr. Black is very conservative with his approach and will only recommend treatment if it is necessary. If you have been told your child needs early braces, you can trust Dr. Black with their needs. Our early treatment technology can help eliminate the need for early treatment in some children.

Reasons for interceptive orthodontic treatment

Most children do not need interceptive orthodontics. But for children who need a little extra attention, interceptive orthodontics can help influence the development and growth of the jaw.

No two kids — or their teeth — have the same needs. There are many advantages and applications to phase 1 treatment. Some common reasons for interceptive orthodontic treatment include:

Class II problems

Class II problems represent abnormal bite relationships in which the upper jaw and teeth project ahead of the lower jaw, called “overjet.” Class II patients usually exhibit a convex facial profile with a deficient chin prominence. Typically, a Class II problem is inherited and results in a shorter than normal lower jaw. Other factors, such as persistent thumb sucking, can aggravate these problems. Correction of this disorder generally requires influencing facial growth to bring the upper and lower jaws and teeth into their proper position.

Class III problems

Class III problems are also primarily genetic in origin. In this instance, the lower jaw and teeth are displaced to the front of the upper jaw structures. Facially, the appearance may give the impression that the lower jaw is excessively large, but in many cases the lack of upper jaw development is at fault.


Posterior crossbites usually result from a constricted upper jaw or unusually wide lower jaw. A narrow upper jaw will often force a patient to move her lower jaw forward or to the side when closing into a stable bite. When closed into this accommodated position, the lower teeth are located outside the upper teeth. This posturing may result in an incorrect functional position of the lower jaw with accompanying facial asymmetry.


Spaces between teeth are another common problem associated with the need for orthodontic care. Like crowding, spacing may be related to a tooth-to-jaw size disharmony. Gum tissue attachments called “frenae” are also a common cause of spacing between the front teeth. Excessive vertical overlap of the front teeth as well as incisor protrusion may lead to spacing. Other contributing factors include atypical or unusually narrow teeth, and missing or impacted teeth.

Deep bite

Excessive vertical overlap of incisor teeth, called “overbite,” is generally found in association with a discrepancy between the length of the upper and lower jaws. It usually results in excessive eruption of either the upper or lower incisors or both. Associated problems include: excessive display of gum tissue, lip protrusion or entrapment, biting the roof of the mouth, and incisor wear.

Open bite

A lack of vertical overlap of the incisor teeth can usually be traced to jaw disharmony or persistent habits (that is, digit sucking habits and posturing of the tongue between the front teeth) or excessive vertical growth of one or both jaws. Early assessment and intervention with these disorders is critical to the overall success.


Crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws. The teeth may be twisted or displaced. Crowding occurs when there is disharmony in the tooth to jaw size relationship or when the teeth are larger than the available space. Crowding can be caused by improper eruption of teeth (sequence and / or location) and early or late loss of primary teeth.

Crowding should be corrected because it can:

  • prevent proper cleaning of all the surfaces of your teeth
  • lead to dental decay
  • increase the chances of gum disease
  • prevent proper functioning of teeth
  • make your smile less attractive
  • Cause tooth damage such as chipping, breaking, or uneven wear patterns