Interceptive Orthodontics

Q & A with Dr. Mark Hodge

In past generations, orthodontics was most commonly used to treat a problem in adolescence or even adulthood. But times are changing. With early treatment, also known as Interceptive Orthodontics, dentists are able to influence development of the jaws and teeth and promote proper spacing during earlier stages of development. By creating the necessary amount of room for teeth early on, a patient’s need for orthodontics later in life can be greatly reduced or completely avoided in some cases. To provide a clearer picture of Interceptive Orthodontics, we have interviewed HDC Clinical Director, Top 1% Elite Invisalign Provider and practicing dentist Dr. Mark Hodge of Berkshire Dental Group in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Q: How would you define Interceptive Orthodontics?
Interceptive Orthodontics simply means diagnosing and treating malocclusion as soon as it’s detected. It’s making an orthodontic assessment regardless of the patient’s age. The American Academy of Orthodontics says every child should have an orthodontic evaluation no later than the age of seven.

Mark Hodge, DMD,
Clinical Director at Heartland Dental Care, Top 1% Elite Invisalign Provider and practicing dentist at Berkshire Dental Group in Broken Arrow, OK

Q: Why is Interceptive Orthodontics such an important part of preventative care?
I compare it to dental sealants. Sealants are less invasive than a root canal and much easier to complete. When applying sealants, dentists can intercept decay at the first signs of development. If that chance is missed, then a filling can be administered. But the more chances that are missed, the more complex and damaging the problem will become. Sealants offer a timely solution to prevent extensive damage early on.

The same is true for orthodontics. As soon as the potential for a problem is present - that’s the best time to prevent it. This doesn’t automatically guarantee that the patient won’t need orthodontic treatment down the road, but dentists can dramatically simplify the treatment and improve the stability of the patient’s outcome with early treatment.

Before and After:
Patient Age 5-7 years

Before and After:
Patient Age 8-11 years

Q: How will patients benefit from receiving Interceptive Orthodontics?
By starting early, patients receiving Interceptive Orthodontics will typically have clearer airways and better facial balance as an adult. With improved airway development resulting in proper sleep, an ideal height and growth curve can be maintained through childhood. Being behind the curve on growth and development can increase risk for developing systemic diseases.

In addition, improper airway development can lead to obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other health issues. It’s part of our roles as dentists; we have to look at our young patients and think about what their lives will be like at age 76, and what we can do now to help them develop the best way possible.

Q: How will dentists and their team members benefit from implementing Interceptive Orthodontics in their office?
In my personal experience, providing interceptive treatment has given me and my team members a greater sense of fulfillment. By being more proactive, we’re able to see the proper facial development of our young patients right before our eyes. It’s extremely energizing for the whole team and rewarding to know that we’ve helped someone for a lifetime.

Q: What are key indicators dentists should look for when determining if a patient needs Interceptive Orthodontics?
A big indicator is a lack of spacing in the primary dentition, as is a pronounced overbite or underbite in the primary dentition. Dentists should also be on the lookout for signs of bruxism, or teeth grinding. Other indicators include chronic allergy or airway issues, early or delayed loss of baby teeth and bad habits such as thumb sucking, cheek biting or using a pacifier past the age of two and a half.

Q: What can dentists and team members do to encourage parents to choose Interceptive Orthodontic treatment?
Number one would be to fully believe in it. Understand why interceptive treatment is so important to helping children start out on a healthy path. Dentists need to commit to this idea in order for parents to understand the importance of it. Number two, dentists should use photos of their pediatric patients. Looking at actual pictures of the problems can help parents see the warning signs that the dentist is seeing, and this will give them a clearer understanding of the consequences of not taking action.

Q: Closing thoughts?
Utilizing Interceptive Orthodontics is easy, and more importantly, very safe. Using the appropriate materials and appliances, dentists can only improve a patient’s oral health. The only question is to what degree the patient can be helped. The worst thing a dental office can do is to let problems get worse when they could be prevented.