The purpose of early treatment is to address some very specific conditions with growth and development. Dr. Bates has a conservative approach to early treatment since it is only appropriate for these particular issues. Usually, the big things we are watching for are 1) a narrow upper jaw resulting in a crossbite in the back of the mouth, 2) a big overbite (in the dental field we call this “overjet”) or underbite, or 3) teeth hitting in a way that will damage them (sometimes called “traumatic occlusion”). These conditions usually will start being apparent around 7 years old, which is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommend an initial evaluation by an orthodontist at that age. Other than these conditions, there are a few rare things that may require a first phase of treatment.
We enjoy working with patients of all ages and will make appropriate recommendations for each stage of development if it is required. Since early treatment addresses some very specific issues, there will likely be an additional phase of treatment in the future once all of the permanent teeth have erupted.
Early treatment can range from simply wearing some special retainers for minor issues to having partial braces on upper and lower teeth. If we need to do partial upper and lower braces, treatment times are usually around 12 months in average cases and can extend to 18 months in more complex cases. The process is very similar to getting full braces placed, but there are fewer braces to actually place. Since we often need to use special appliances made by a lab, there are a few more visits at the beginning of treatment to make sure these special appliances are customized for each patient.