It is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists to have children evaluated for potential orthodontic treatment around age seven. This might sound young to parents, but it’s important to remember that not every child will need orthodontics following this evaluation. The orthodontist will simply monitor the growth and development of your child. However, some children will benefit by starting orthodontics early; children with issues such as severe crowding, protruding teeth, crossbites or jaw growth issues can greatly benefit from a two-phase treatment approach.
What is Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?
Two-Phase Treatment refers to an orthodontic treatment plan where a child will begin wearing braces or an orthodontic appliance earlier than typical while there is a combination of baby and permanent teeth, have a break or retainer period, and then have a full set of braces when all the permanent teeth are in place. The initial Phase 1 of orthodontic treatment aims to prevent more serious problems from developing. The break period is often spent wearing a retainer that the orthodontist monitors while the adult teeth come into place. Lastly, Phase 2 of braces completes the final adjustments made to the bite and adult teeth.
1. Two-Phase treatment prevents future problems.
The main motivation for implementing a two-phase treatment plan is to head-off future complications such as trauma, extractions, and surgery. Overly crowded teeth, crossbites, or other jaw issues can get worse as the child grows, making later treatment more complicated as the jaws have mostly finished growing.
2. Proper jaw growth & spacing is encouraged.
Your child’s baby teeth may not look overcrowded, but that doesn’t mean their permanent teeth will have the same luxury. By having an orthodontist screen your child for potential problems, they can determine if their adult teeth will have enough space to grow. By creating space for the adult teeth to come in early the orthodontist can often prevent the need to remove permanent teeth when older. Also, by retracting protruding teeth in the upper jaw, it greatly reduces the risk of trauma to the front teeth.
3. It can help children feel better about themselves.
We’ve talked about how crooked teeth aren’t just an aesthetic problem on our blog before. While it may not be as apparent or concerning as health problems, the psychological effect a crooked smile may have on your child is an important thing to consider.
There have always been stages within individual orthodontic treatment plans. However, a two-phase treatment with targeted goals for each phase allows orthodontists to focus their efforts and give your child the best chance for a beautiful, healthy smile. While this type of treatment may be beneficial for some, it’s not for everyone. Talk to your orthodontist to see if a two-phase treatment is right for your child.