When most people think about orthodontics, they imagine teenagers getting their first set, or adults who want to correct their smiles later in life. Rarely does the thought take you to a child who still has some baby teeth in their mouths. With that in mind, it may surprise you to learn that some developmental problems are best treated at any early age, often in two separate phases.
What is Two-Phase orthodontic treatment?
Two phase orthodontic treatment refers to a specialized process combining tooth straightening along with physical and facial changes. The purpose of this approach is to take advantage of unique opportunities your child’s growing facial structure provides. Because they are growing rapidly, children benefit enormously from orthodontic appliances that modify the relationship between upper and lower jaws, balance the face and develop room for erupting teeth.
The phrase “timing is everything” is relevant in a lot of situations, including planning orthodontic treatment for your children. When working towards a straighter, healthier smile, the first step should be an initial comprehensive evaluation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Stephen Godwin. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have their first orthodontic consultation by the age of seven to determine if there is a problem that would benefit from early treatment, and we agree. Early evaluation gives us the chance to find and diagnose many common dental issues before they have a chance to become more serious and require more intensive treatment.
This early intervention consists of a first phase of treatment when both permanent and baby teeth are present. Phase One treatment involves the patient's muscles and jaws more than the teeth, although some concerns regarding tooth positioning may be addressed. The goal of this first phase of treatment is to create the healthiest environment possible for the eruption of permanent teeth. It is not intended to eliminate all future orthodontic needs. Catching and treating conditions such as jaw discrepancies or overcrowding issues early-on is the most effective way to achieve lasting results.
First phase treatment is indicated in cases of:
- Severely protruding upper teeth
- Severe crowding
- Lower teeth impinging on the roof of the mouth
- Jaw disharmony
- Teeth not erupting and/or erupting out of normal position
Phase-Two treatment, when warranted, will usually be initiated once your child’s permanent teeth have erupted, typically around age 11 or 12 . The second orthodontic phase involves correction of tooth position, space closure, and other refinements which are important to function and stability. This phase will incorporate treatments that will look more familiar, such as full upper and lower braces.
Some of the major advantages of two-phase treatment are:
- Reduces the need to remove permanent teeth
- Improved self-image during the formative years
- Lessens the risk of tooth fracture
- Improves ability to bite and chew
- Often decreases the time required in full braces
- Improves speech development
If you have concerns about your child's dental development, call Bel Air Orthodontics at 410-838-2244 to schedule a complimentary initial examination with Dr. Stephen Godwin or contact us through our website here. Together, we will help your child develop safely and properly, so they can have the most attractive and functional smile possible.For additional information on two-phase orthodontic treatment visit our website.