Early Treatment

Certain types of orthodontic problems can be improved before all the permanent teeth have come through. Examples include:

Anterior open bites

Anterior open bites most commonly result from thumb or digit sucking habits. The presence of the thumb pushes the teeth out of contact with each other resulting in a space between the front teeth when the mouth is closed.

It is important to eliminate the habit as early as possible as with time persistent thumb or digit sucking not only affects the position of the teeth, but also the growth of the jaws limiting the orthodontic correction possible.

Removable appliances are very effective in stopping thumb or digit sucking habits and reducing anterior open bites, if treated early.

Correction of cross bites

A cross - bite means that the upper teeth are locked behind the lower teeth and may cause the lower jaw to shift from a central position when the patient is biting their teeth together.

Cross bites are corrected with removable appliances, and treatment usually takes about 6 to 9 months.

Protruding teeth

Teeth that protrude excessively are more susceptible to trauma and can also make patients feel self- conscious. Early intervention from about the age of 8-9 onwards can help prevent knocks to the front teeth and also help boost self- confidence.

Deep bites

The front teeth should ideally overlap each other by about one third of the incisor teeth. Deeper bites can cause discomfort behind the upper teeth, especially if the lower incisors contact the gum behind the upper teeth when biting together.

Deep bites can also prevent the lower jaw from growing forwards freely and cause the lower incisor teeth to tip inwards and become crowded as they develop.

The severity of protruding teeth and deep bites can be reduced by early treatment with simple removable appliances.


Early treatment is usually followed by a second course of orthodontic treatment once all the permanent teeth have come through. This is known as ‘definitive treatment’.

This page was last updated on the 16th of September 2013