The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of an early treatment oriented orthodontic program on treatment need at age 12 years in a public health care system. The subjects consisted of one whole age cohort in a municipality in Finland, 87 children in total. All children were examined at ages eight, 10, and 12 years. Treatment need was assessed on casts using a modified Dental Health Component of the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need and a 10-Grade Scale based on the Treatment Priority Index. Early treatment was started on children having definite treatment need according to both indices. The agreement between indices was good at ages eight and 12 years and moderate at age 10 years. Treatment need changed significantly from eight to 12 years. Of the 29 children with definite treatment need at age eight years, only two had treatment need at age 12 years. Of the 38 children with no treatment need at age eight years, 28 remained in this category and only two children had definite need for treatment at age 12 years. The duration of treatment ranged from one to 61 months, although 59% of the treatments lasted two years or less. We conclude that systematically planned early orthodontic treatment may have contributed to the significant reduction in treatment need from eight to 12 years of age.