Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit the orthodontist for the first time at the age of seven? While this may seem young to some people, it’s the ideal age for a few reasons, one of which is that some children can benefit from two phases of orthodontic treatment.
What does two-phase orthodontic treatment involve?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment works to straighten smiles and correct bites, while also guiding the growth of the jaw to result in a beautiful, stable, and healthy bite. The first phase of treatment involves guiding the growth of the jaw, while the second phase straightens the smile and aligns the bite.
Here are some important things to know about two-phase treatment.
- This type of treatment is for children, but not every child will need two-phase treatment. The best way to determine if your child is an ideal candidate for two-phase treatment is to schedule a complimentary consultation around your child’s seventh birthday.
- Two-phase treatment may be recommended for several reasons, including:
- To reduce the need to extract teeth later
- To prevent the need for surgery later
- Correct underbites
- Repair issues caused by bad habits, such as prolonged thumb sucking
- Reduce the risk of trauma to protruding teeth
- If baby teeth are moved in this process, it’s not to improve their appearance, but rather to ensure sufficient space for the permanent teeth to erupt.
- You do not wait until your child’s baby teeth have all fallen out. The first phase of treatment begins while your child still has baby teeth present.
- The first phase of treatment may include the use of orthodontic appliances, such as expanders, functional appliances, braces on select teeth, headgear, space maintainers, or specialized retainers.
- There will be a resting period in between the two phases to allow the permanent teeth to all erupt.
- The second phase of treatment is typically the straightening and fine-tuning stage, where we perfect the bite to ensure ideal form and function.
Many parents often wonder if they’ll be able to tell if their child could benefit from two-phase treatment. While the best way to determine that is through a consultation with an orthodontist, there are some signs parents can look for.
- Losing baby teeth too early or too late
- Issues when biting or chewing
- Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use
- Teeth don’t fit together at all
- Teeth are overly crowded at the age of seven or eight
- Protruding teeth
Not every child will require two-phase orthodontic treatment, but for children for whom it is recommended, it can make future treatment more efficient and effective. By creating an ideal environment for the permanent teeth to erupt and correcting jaw deficiencies early, we can make the straightening phase of treatment much easier.