What is two-phase orthodontic treatment, and what are the benefits?
We often are asked by concerned moms why she sees kids in her young daughter’s class with braces on! Is she missing the boat with her daughter?!?
For a minority of children, two-phase orthodontic treatment is used to address problems with jaw growth or severe crowding or spacing at an early age (7-10 years of age) to encourage normal growth and development of the teeth and surrounding hard and soft tissues. This is followed by comprehensive treatment after all of the permanent teeth have erupted. By taking the treatment and splitting it into two phases, we are able to address the needs and problems when they are beginning. By resolving the issues at an early age, the child has a much better outcome at the end of treatment.
Phase One Treatment
The goal of Phase One treatment is to create a foundation for a beautiful smile by helping the jaws develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. At an early age, children may exhibit signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. Children over the age of six who are diagnosed with jaw discrepancies, such as an upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow, may be candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Early orthodontic treatment can also help correct front teeth crowding in children starting around the age of eight, and helps to prevent the need to later extract permanent teeth, as well as avoid the need for surgical procedures to correct jaw alignment. Treatment involves braces on the upper front teeth and usually an appliance like the Rapid Palatal Expander or Reverse-Pull Headgear. Other times, braces may be used on the lower teeth where there is severe crowding or rotations. Treatment is limited to about 12 months to achieve our goals. Kids do great with Phase I. Most parents are concerned about pain and discomfort, but because the child is young, the movements with the expander, braces, etc., are very simple and comfortable. It only takes the child a few days to get used to the appliances and braces!
During the resting period, the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt free from interference. A successful Phase One treatment will have created room for the permanent teeth to find an eruption path, so it is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. If eruption is unnecessarily interfered with, the permanent teeth may become impacted or severely displaced.
At Almond Orthodontics, we carefully monitor your child’s progress. The teeth are not in their final position at the end of Phase One treatment; their final position is accomplished during Phase Two orthodontic treatment. In certain cases, Dr. Almond may recommend selective removal of primary (baby) teeth to facilitate the eruption of permanent teeth during the resting period. To ensure that your teeth are properly monitored during the resting period, periodic appointments at our office are necessary, usually about every six months.
Phase Two Treatment
In Phase Two orthodontic treatment, we work to ensure that each tooth is moved to an exact location in the mouth where it can work perfectly with the cheeks, lips, tongue, and other teeth, allowing the teeth to function together properly. Phase Two treatment often involves full upper and lower braces.
Phase Two treatment begins once all of the permanent teeth have erupted, and often requires full upper and lower braces for an average of 18 months. The treatment is much easier because of all the work that your child has already accomplished! Following Phase Two treatment, retainers are worn to ensure that you maintain your beautiful smile.