Children sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper and lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognized at an early age. If children after age 7 are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment.
Does Every Orthodontic Problem Require Two-Phase Treatment?
NO! Often it is more efficient, and the end results are just as good if the problem is monitored and corrected in a straightforward treatment when all permanent teeth fully erupt. Nonetheless, sometimes early treatment is really important. To be on the safe side the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children are screened by an Orthodontic specialist by the age of 7.
Planning Now Can Save Your Smile Later
Because they are growing rapidly, children can benefit enormously from an early phase of orthodontic treatment utilizing appliances that direct the growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws. Thus, a good foundation can be established, providing adequate room for the eruption of all permanent teeth.
This early correction may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws. Leaving such a condition untreated until all permanent teeth erupt could result in jaw discrepancy too severe to achieve an ideal result with braces.
Phase One Retention
In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. A successful first phase will have created room for teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced. Retainers will be necessary for a period of time during this period to maintain the results of the early treatment.
Monitoring Your Teeth’s Progress
At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions, as many permanent teeth have not even erupted yet. The final alignment will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.
What is the Advantage of Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?
The major advantages of two-phase treatment are:
- Maximize the opportunity to accomplish an ideal healthy, functional, esthetic result that will remain stable throughout life.
- To improve self-esteem from an unaesthetic facial appearance in the years prior to the orthodontist’s ability to commence comprehensive orthodontic treatment.
- To minimize the length of treatment during the second, comprehensive treatment.
- To avoid injury.
What if I Put Off Treatment?
In many cases, this is fine. We only initiate treatment on 10% of kids prior to the eruption of all their permanent teeth, but there are certain orthodontic conditions that are best treated at an early age and should be looked at by an orthodontist.
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly and be the most esthetically pleasing.
Orthodontic care is often a 2-3 year relationship, so choose wisely. We feel strongly that the services offered at our office are unmatched in the field.