Early Treatment

Above all else, Total Orthodontics is known for one thing–conservative care.  We simply do not over-treat.  Though we do perform early orthodontic treatment when it is supported by the research, or requested by parents; over 90% of our patients receive braces one time and one time only.  Indeed, we have over 1,700 children in our complimentary Growth and Guidance Program.  These are children who came in for an orthodontic exam and Dr. Theroux and Dr. Barefoot determined it was too early to start treatment.

At what age should a child first visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This allows Dr. Theroux and Dr. Barefoot to determine if orthodontic treatment will be required, and the best time for the patient to be treated. Many of the dentists in our community have been trained to identify orthodontic problems early and may refer you to our office earlier than age 7.

Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?

Early diagnosis and treatment can guide erupting teeth into a more favorable position, preserve space for permanent teeth, and reduce the likelihood of fracturing protruded front teeth.

If early treatment is indicated, Dr. Theroux and Dr. Barefoot can guide the growth of the jaw and incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment, after all the permanent teeth erupt.

Does early treatment benefit all children?

Early treatment does not necessarily benefit all children. Certain types of orthodontic problems can be more easily and efficiently corrected in the teen years when all the permanent teeth have erupted. Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or completed. The doctors will develop a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. If the doctor decides the patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed in our Growth and Guidance Program, called Kids Club.

What is the Kids’ Club?

The Kids’ Club program is for patients who are not ready for treatment and have been placed on recall. This program enables us to monitor the eruptive pattern of the permanent teeth. Sometimes, poor eruption patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with early removal of baby teeth which may reduce the treatment time required for braces. We will notify your general dentist of any recommendations made during your visit. We normally see the patients on recall every 6-9 months to observe their progress as they grow. Dr. Theroux and Dr. Barefoot determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child, with no fee required.

If a child has treatment early, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?

Early treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, their final alignment may not have been corrected. Typically, a shortened comprehensive phase of treatment (Phase II – full braces) in the teen years, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, completes the correction. However, in rare circumstances, further orthodontic treatment may not be indicated.