Interceptive orthodontics in Paediatric Dentistry

interceptive orthodontics
While the milk teeth are still present, interceptive or functional orthodontics for children seeks to solve later minor or major problems. Also, solving major problems at early ages will ease and shorten orthodontic treatments during adolescence.

Interceptive orthodontics in paediatric dentistry

What is interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics is a type of orthodontics based on prevention. Many years ago, traditional orthodontics, based only on permanent teeth, did not take early orthodontic treatments into consideration.

Therefore, now it is performed in boys and girls at an early age (between 4 and 9 years old) to correct or help guide the growth of the mandibular and maxillary bones.

What are included in interceptive orthodontics?

It is called interceptive or functional orthodontics because it seeks to intercept the problem related to maxillofacial growth.

Its objective is to be able to treat occlusal problems at an early age before children have finished their growth phase.


What does interceptive mean?

Interceptive means we help guide growth and minimize occlusion problems through early orthodontics.

Fortunately, the fact of having interceptive orthodontics will make subsequent treatment easier and shorter.


What is the difference between preventive and interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics is a kind of preventive orthodontics. The need for the preventive wear of orthodontic appliances may be due to various causes:

Skeletal causes

An abnormal growth of the jaws causing a high-arched or narrow palate, posterior crossbites, anterior crossbites, open bites, protruding maxillary bones, increased overjet with protruding teeth, protruding mandibular bones… Protruded facial profiles or flattened facial profiles will need to be considered to decide if interceptive orthodontics is needed.


Functional origin

That is to say, habits acquired during childhood such as finger sucking or thumb sucking, prolonged use of a pacifier, mouth breathing, atypical swallowing or tongue thrust.

Also, some children diagnosed with sleep apnea have also mouth breathing that can produce openbites and alteration of facial problems.


Genetic heritage

In other words, anomalies that have a strong genetic load.

Issues like crowded teeth or space problems that would need straightening teeth have to be studied.


How do children benefit from functional or interceptive orthodontics?

Which orthodontic treatment is fastest?

Interceptive orthodontics encompasses a wide variety of dental appliances. The choice of one or the other will depend on the malocclusion of each patient. An orthodontic study is needed.

Therefore, it is essential to make a correct diagnosis to determine what the problem is and what the treatment of choice will be.


Interceptive orthodontic therapy will be chosen based on the problem to be treated:


To correct class II or retrognathia, that is, the mandible in a more retruded position.

In these cases we will use devices such as the Bionator (which stimulate jaw growth). See “Appliances to correct jaw” in the case of correcting a retrognathic jaw.


To correct class III or prognathism, that is, the jaw in a more advanced position.

Devices such as the reverse headgear (face mask) will be used. It serves to stimulate the growth of the maxillary bone and is combined with the use of a palate breaker.


To correct a crossbite.

Devices called circuit breakers are used to expand the upper jaw and uncross the patient’s bite. Rapid palatal expanders or quad helix appliances are the most used interceptive appliances to correct crossbites.


What age is interceptive orthodontics for? 

Generally speaking, the first orthodontic visit is recommended around the age of 6. For this reason, parents should not wait until the end of the loss of baby teeth to perform it.

However, all children are different and have their own rate of growth. Therefore, interceptive orthodontic appliances can be placed before or after the age of 6 years. The pediatric dentist will advise you and assess if it is necessary to start it at another age.

If the child has dental problems and has an early loss of a tooth due to extensive caries infection, he/she will need a tooth extraction and the placement of a space maintainer.


How long does an interceptive orthodontics treatment last?

The duration of orthodontic treatment usually ranges from 6 months to 18 months. However, the length varies depending on each particular case.

Also, it should be noted that if the device is removable, it is essential that the patient wear it during the number of hours indicated for it to be effective. That way, we can avoid lengthen the treatment. Parents and children always prefer shorter treatments.


What cares are necessary during a functional orthodontics treatment?

Undoubtedly, patients who wear it must have very good oral hygiene. Teeth and gums have to stay clean and healthy since we have to avoid having cavities and gingivitis. The interceptive appliances have to be kept clean.

Finally, they should avoid hard, very sweet or sticky foods that can damage their teeth, as well as avoid biting everyday objects such as pens.



Boj JR, Cortés O, González P, Ferreira L. Odontopediatría Clínica. México DF. Odontología Books, 2018.

Boj JR, Cortés O, Hernández M, González P. Odontopediatría: Dudas y Aclaraciones. México DF. Odontología Books, 2019.

Boj JR, Català M, Mendoza A, Planells P, Cortés O. Odonto Pediatría, Bebés, Niños y Adolescentes. México. Odontología Books, 2019.


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