AS A CULTURE, we tend to think of braces as a teenage experience, so it can be surprising to learn that the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that children have an initial orthodontic consultation by age seven. If a child is starting to develop complicated orthodontic problems, this early checkup allows the orthodontist to head them off with Phase 1 treatment.
What Is Two-Phase Orthodontics?
In traditional orthodontic treatment, the patient (who is in their mid-teens or older) is fitted for their appliance, which they wear until their teeth are properly aligned. In some cases, extractions or surgery may be necessary. This treatment all happens in a single phase, followed by wearing retainers to keep the teeth from shifting back.
Two-phase orthodontic treatment means that part of the orthodontic work is done when the patient still has most of their baby teeth, with the goal of minimizing developing problems so that treatment in their teens will be faster and simpler.
Who Benefits From Two Phases?
Certain types of orthodontic problems respond well to two-phase orthodontic treatment.
- Early correction for a cross-bite can be easier and help stop lower jaw problems from getting worse.
- In cases of extreme crowding, phase 1 treatment can create more room, reducing the need for future tooth extraction.
- Protrusive front teeth (teeth that stick out) are at higher risk of being damaged, particularly for very active children, and moving them back could prevent an injury.
When One Phase Is Best
The idea of two-phase treatment may appeal to some parents who prefer to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to their children’s oral health, but two-phase orthodontic treatment is not for every patient.
For many patients, the final results after a single treatment period will be the same as at the end of two-phase treatment. Even in some cases where it would make sense, the child may not be able to follow the orthodontist’s instructions very effectively because they are so young.
Watch those teeth move!
Trust Your Orthodontist
Whether your child will benefit most from one phase of treatment or two, you can trust the orthodontist to find the best treatment plan for them so that they will be able to have the straight, healthy smile they deserve. If your child is old enough for that initial consultation, give us a call to schedule one!