Planning orthodontic treatment for your child can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Here at Damon Smiles, Dr. Damon agree with the American Association of Orthodontists that all children should have their first orthodontic consultation by around the age of seven. This allows us to detect many common dental issues before they have a chance to become a more serious problem, potentially reducing the need for more complex orthodontic treatment at a later age.
Being proactive rather than reactive where orthodontic treatment is concerned can be summed up in two-phase treatment, something you may hear us mention once your child has completed their complimentary orthodontic evaluation with us. But what exactly is this, and how can it benefit your child?
What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?
It might sound a little intimidating, but two-phase orthodontic treatment is actually a pretty simple, if specialized, process. It consists of two separate phases, or times, when a child receives orthodontic treatment, combining straightening the teeth with bony physical, facial changes if needed. There will also normally be a break in treatment in between the phases, .
The first phase of treatment will usually begin while the child has a mix of their baby teeth and adult teeth. The second phase then takes place once the child has most or all of their permanent teeth. We may or may not suggest braces or other orthodontic appliances during the first phase of treatment, depending on the nature and severity of each specific case.
For some children, two-phase treatment can really maximize the chance to give them a healthy, functional, and beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. The goals of two-phase treatment are:
- To ensure a proper, working relationship between the teeth and jaws
- To correct the alignment of the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- To position the teeth and jaws for more pleasant facial symmetry
Who qualifies for two-phase treatment?
Since the goal of two-phase treatment is to create a better environment for your child’s permanent teeth to grow in, the first phase of treatment may be suggested to:
- prevent a problem from developing (preventive treatment)
- intercept a developing problem (interceptive treatment)
- guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth (growth modification)
By timing the first phase of orthodontic treatment to the predictable stages of dental development, we’re are able to take advantage of normal childhood growth and development. Orthodontic treatment and a child’s growth can complement each other well, as this provides the most potential for improving or correcting any suspected orthodontic issues early on.
Some problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child may require more intensive treatment if most growth has already occurred. Early treatment often turns severe problems into more manageable issues that can be treated with braces or other orthodontic devices at a later date.
How does two-phase treatment work?
In order to understand how two-phase treatment could benefit your child, it’s important to understand what happens with each phase, as well as in the resting period in between.
Phase one treatment is initiated to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all the permanent teeth, as well as improving the way the upper and lower jaws fit together.
This can benefit young patients by improving their ability to bite, chew, or even digest their food more effectively. It can also reduce the risk of broken teeth, due to crowded, crooked teeth or malformed jaws. Sometimes there are even emotional benefits, as a straighter, healthier smile can increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
The changes that result from first phase treatment can contribute to longer-term stability, meaning that the teeth stay where they are moved to. The second phase of treatment will help move the teeth into their final, preferred positions.
During the resting phase, we leave the remaining permanent teeth are alone as they continue to erupt. This allows them some freedom of movement, and oftentimes, we won’t recommend retainers or fixed appliances during this time. A successful first phase creates room for the permanent teeth to have a clear path to erupt in.
In the first phase, there is much to accomplish — orthodontic records are made, a diagnosis is established, and a customized treatment plan is created for your child. We may have used certain types of orthodontic appliances to realign the teeth and jaw.
The second phase is where all of these things begin to come together! This phase will typically begin once all permanent teeth have erupted. It will often requires braces on the teeth for a time. Once treatment is complete, retainers will need to be worn as directed to ensure your child’s straight new smile stays in place.
After discussing two-phase treatment for your child with Dr. Damon, you may decide to go ahead with it. During treatment, you can help your child achieve the goals set out by:
- following all recommendations and directions for maintenance and care
- keeping appliances, teeth, and gums clean by sticking to an excellent dental hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing thoroughly at least twice daily
- keeping all scheduled appointments so we’re able to closely monitor their progress
- visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning
- avoiding foods that can damage the appliance and maintaining a healthy diet
At the end of phase two, we want to be sure each tooth has a precise location in the mouth where it can coexist with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this state of equilibrium has been achieved, your child’s teeth will be able to function together properly, resulting in a beautiful, healthy smile and a mouth that works the way it’s meant to!
Taking on two-phase treatment with Damon Orthodontics
Orthodontics is like most things in life, with no “one size fits all” option. Every patient we see is a unique problem requiring a unique treatment plan. What’s right for one child won’t necessarily be right for another. Damon Orthodontics is a patient-centered practice, providing customized care for a top-notch orthodontic experience. With two experienced and efficient orthodontists, skilled staff, and three conveniently located offices, we have everything your child needs for a happy, healthy smile. If you’re in the Sacramento or surrounding area, and are interested in what two-phase orthodontic treatment could offer your young child, get in touch with us today to schedule their free consultation. We’re here to get your child started on the path to their very best smile!