Early childhood treatment is provided in selected cases before all the adult teeth have come through in the pre-adolescent development phase. This type of treatment may involve fixed or removable appliances. The aims of early treatment will be customised to individual needs but may include:
- Reducing protrusion (buck teeth), for psycho-social benefit and to reduce the risk of dental trauma.
- Correction of under bites (when the top teeth bite behind the bottom ones). This may encourage more balanced development and help reduce the risk of abnormal wear to the teeth.
- Expansion, which may be used to match the width of the top and bottom jaws (to correct cross bites) and or to create space for the adult teeth, or to correct an incorrect bite position.
- Habit cessation, is important especially once the adult teeth begin to come through. Continued thumb sucking can cause protrusion of the teeth and can alter the shape of the developing jaw.
All treatments are planned on an individual basis. Realistic expectations regarding the outcome and benefit of proposed early treatment can be discussed. Common broad aims include enhancing growth and facial development and simplifying later treatment.