Oct. 9 (Tue.), 2001

2. Definition and characteristics of early treatment

What is early treatment? It is defined as the treatment performed in the primary (or early mixed) dentition. Some dentists have a wider view of early treatment, even as early as the fetal stage (Dr. Mototaka Imamura, lecturer at Fujita Health Science Univ. Medical School).
The importance of establishing a correct occlusal relationship in growing children has been emphasized in recent years. McNamara states that the objective of early treatment is to establish a healthy oral environment by eliminating skeletal, dental and muscular disharmony prior to the completion of the permanent dentition. Particularly in Class III cases, early initiation of treatment is thought to be desirable to allow unrestricted growth of the maxilla and fully potentiate its growth and development by correcting anterior crossbite at an early stage.

Early treatment offers the following advantages:
1) Easier to achieve skeletal improvement.
2) Simpler treatment.
3) Allows early restoration of oral function.
4) Others

Disadvantages of early treatment include:
1) Prolonged treatment.
2) Early treatment becomes meaningless if skeletal relapse occurs.
3) The patient and parents tend to "burn out", lowering efficiency of practice and patient management.
4) Others

Regarding early treatment from the primary dentition period, many orthodontists would ask, "Have you ever simply observed a crossbite of primary teeth without treating it and experienced any problem later on because of that?"

I will present two cases that exemplify the first set of opposing views, one in which early treatment was successful and the other in which the mandible outgrew early correction, based on my trying experience.