Interceptive/Early Phase Orthodontic Treatment: When is it necessary?

June 7, 2019

At Somerville Orthodontics, it is our goal to do everything we can to educate our patients. Lets work together as a team to help create your best smile. The purpose of our blog is to provide information so that you, the patient can make an informed decision.

Interceptive treatment, or early phase orthodontic treatment addresses developing skeletal or dental malocclusions. It can get a little confusing so lets go over 4 reasons why interceptive treatment might be necessary for your child.

1. Your child has a crossbite

There are two varieties of crossbites: Posterior (back teeth) or anterior (front teeth). In a normal bite, all of the top teeth should fit around all of the bottom teeth like a lid on a box.

Posterior Crossbite

A posterior crossbite is when the top jaw/back teeth is too narrow compared to the bottom jaw/back teeth. This relationship can result in a shift of the lower jaw position. If uncorrected, the shift can lead to uneven lower jaw growth.

At Somerville Orthodontics, we treat posterior crossbites with an appliance called a rapid palatal expander (RPE). Other practitioners may use different appliances but they all accomplish the same goal.

Anterior Crossbite

An anterior crossbite is when the top jaw/front teeth is behind the bottom jaw/front teeth. This relationship can traumatize the lower front teeth and may be a sign of developing skeletal disharmony.

We address anterior crossbites differently depending on severity. A retainer worn at night time can resolve some situations.  In more severe cases, patients need a face mask or braces.

2. Your child has dental protrusion (Overjet)

Dental protrusion, or overjet occurs when the top front teeth are too far forward within the jaw and the face. Protrusive teeth are more susceptible to trauma and may be a sign of an underlying skeletal disharmony.

At Somerville Orthodontics, we treat dental protrusion in a variety of ways. Some methods involve removable retainers, headgear appliances or braces. The method of treatment will depend on your child’s specific diagnosis based on a clinical examination and x-rays.

3. Your child has a deep over bite or open bite 

In a normal bite, the top front teeth should vertically overlap the bottom front teeth by a few millimeters. An overbite is excess vertical overlap of the front teeth. This relationship can cause trauma to the soft tissue behind the upper front teeth.

At Somerville Orthodontics, excess overbites are treated with a removable retainer. In more severe cases, patients require braces or a headgear appliance.

An openbite is no vertical overlap of the front teeth. Finger habits (thumb or finger sucking) are often the main cause of openbites. If caught early, stopping the habit will result in spontaneous correction. In more severe cases, habit-breaking appliances with or without braces may be necessary.

4. Your child’s front teeth are crowded

The upper front adult teeth are significantly larger than the primary teeth they replace. As a result, this can create unaesthetic overlapping and crowding of the front teeth. In most cases, the crowding will improve as the child continues to grow skeletally and continues to lose primary teeth in a timely manner.

Patients who do not like the appearance of their front teeth during this period can benefit from early phase treatment. This can be accomplished with either braces or retainers.

Final Thoughts

We recommend Early phase orthodontic treatment to address an existing dental or skeletal disharmony. If left untreated, the disharmony may result in more complex dental and skeletal malocclusions.  Future correction will require more aggressive comprehensive orthodontic treatment.

Early phase treatment will last approximately 12-18 months. After treatment, we monitor the patient until the remaining permanent teeth come into the mouth. Most patients who undergo early phase orthodontic treatment will also require a round of full braces when all of their primary teeth have been lost. This second round of treatment is called Phase II treatment.

Please follow us on Facebook:

If you have any other questions about early phase orthodontic treatment, or have a suggestion regarding a blog post, please contact us at 617-227-2421 or

Get in Touch!


51 Cross Street, Somerville, MA 02145

New patient? Special offer here!
Chat with us
Welcome to Somerville Orthodontics!
We are open and continuing to make safety our priority.
How can we help?
I'm considering treatment
I’m a patient and need assistance
Excellent, I can help!
Good news, We're are now offering free Virtual Consultations
PLUS, we have a limited time special offer for you.
Just by chatting here we’re both saving valuable time, so you've just earned a $100 credit toward treatment!
Use this promo code: SMILE and click one of the options below here to redeem your $100 credit and let us know what you are comfortable doing next:
I'd like to set up a virtual consultation
I'd like to set up an in-person consultation
I have a quick question - click to call Somerville Orthodontics