The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist by the age of 7. At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Oregon, Gary Chapman, DDS, performs comprehensive orthodontic exams to determine whether his pediatric patients need treatment prior to braces. Early intervention is crucial if your child has an orthodontic concern that’s expected to worsen as they age. To learn more, call or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is early intervention?

Early intervention, or Phase 1, refers to orthodontic treatments that Dr. Chapman performs while your child still has baby teeth. Also called milk teeth, baby teeth guide permanent teeth into the correct position. If your child already has orthodontic issues, early intervention can create space for their permanent teeth to erupt properly.

Braces are considered Phase 2 orthodontics. While braces are more effective when children have all their permanent teeth, early intervention can shorten the length of time they’ll need to wear these appliances when they’re older.

Who needs early intervention?

Dr. Chapman recommends early intervention when your child shows signs of misaligned teeth, a bad bite, or other common orthodontic concerns. Early intervention prevents these problems from worsening with age.

Early intervention may be right for your child if they have:

  • A narrow palate
  • Severely misaligned teeth
  • A misaligned bite
  • Crowded teeth
  • Underbite
  • Overbite
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Missing or extra teeth

With early intervention, these orthodontic problems are easier to correct when your child is ready for braces. It can also lower their risk of tooth erosion, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and even tooth decay.

What are the different types of early intervention?

Dr. Chapman offers several types of oral appliances to intercept early orthodontic problems. After an initial evaluation, he can determine whether your child needs an early intervention treatment, such as:

Penguin appliance

Often called “invisible headgear,” the Penguin appliance is the 21st century solution to traditional headgear. The appliance adheres to your child’s primary molars and gently pushes them back to make room for their permanent molars.

The Penguin appliance is helpful in cases of overcrowded or crooked teeth. Most children only need to wear the appliance for 3-4 months.

Palatal expander

A palatal expander is a device Dr. Chapman places in the palate of your child’s upper arch to widen their upper jaw. An expander is necessary to prevent overcrowding if your child has a narrow palate.

D-gainer appliance

A D-gainer is an oral appliance that Dr. Chapman places directly on your child’s molars to prevent overcrowding. This appliance can be used in place of a palatal expander.

To learn more about early intervention, call ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics or schedule an appointment online now.