When thinking ahead about your child’s smile, let the phrase “timing is everything” be your guide. Planning orthodontic treatment for your child can be confusing and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! By following the recommendation of the American Association of Orthodontists that all children have their first orthodontic consultation by age seven, many common dental issues can be detected before they have a chance to become a more serious problem. The kind of early intervention Santa Paula Ortho and Oxnard Ortho has to offer has also been shown to reduce the overall need for more complex orthodontic treatment at a later age.
This idea of being proactive rather than reactive where orthodontic treatment is concerned can be summed up in two-phase treatment. But what exactly is this, and how can it benefit your child?
What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that combines straightening the teeth with bony physical, facial changes if needed. Consisting of two separate phases, or times, when a child receives orthodontic treatment, there will also normally be a break in treatment in between the phases.
The first phase of treatment usually begins 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. Braces or other orthodontic appliances may or may not be used during the first phase of treatment, depending on the nature and severity of each specific case.
Two-phase treatment can play an important role in maximizing the opportunity to give your child 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
What would qualify a child for two-phase treatment?
Once an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Lee has completed a thorough examination of your child’s mouth, a recommendation may be made for two-phase treatment. The goal of this treatment is to create a better environment for your child’s permanent teeth to grow in, so 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)
Orthodontic treatment and a child’s growth can complement each other well. By timing the first phase of orthodontic treatment to the predictable stages of dental development, orthodontists are able to take advantage of normal childhood growth and development. This provides the most potential for the improvement and correction of any suspected orthodontic issues early on.
Some problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child may require more intensive treatment, such as corrective surgery, if treated after most growth has occurred. Early treatment is effective for achieving lasting results for certain issues, and lessening the impact of others. As the name implies, most patients will require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the tooth and jaw alignment started during the first phase of treatment.
How does two-phase treatment work?
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 of your child’s permanent teeth, as well as improving the way the upper and lower jaws fit together.
There are a number of ways that this method of treatment can benefit patients. It can improve 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. There are even emotional benefits, as there can be an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, something that is always important and sometimes lacking in younger patients.
The changes that result from first phase treatment can contribute to longer-term stability, meaning that the teeth stay where the orthodontist moves them. The second phase of treatment will move the teeth into their final, preferred positions.
During the resting phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they continue to erupt. Most orthodontists believe it’s best to allow the these permanent teeth some freedom of movement, and generally won’t recommend retainers or fixed appliances during this time. A successful first phase will have created room for the permanent teeth to have a clear path to erupt in.
In the first phase, orthodontic records are made, a diagnosis is established, and a customized treatment plan is created for your child. Certain types of appliances may have been used to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase is where everything begins to come together! This phase will typically begin once all permanent teeth have erupted, and will usually requires braces on the teeth for a time. Once treatment is complete, retainers should be worn as directed to ensure your child’s straight new smile lasts a lifetime.
If you decide to go ahead with two-phase treatment after discussing it with a knowledgeable and experienced orthodontist such as Dr. Lee, you can help your child achieve its goals by:
- Following the 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 scheduled appointments with the orthodontist’s office so that progress can be closely monitored
- Visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning
- Avoiding any foods that can damage the appliance
- Maintaining a healthy diet
Customized treatment with 805 Ortho
Like most things in life, orthodontics has no “one size fits all” option. Every patient we see has a unique problem that requires a unique treatment plan, and we know that what is right for one child won’t necessarily be right for another. Here at Santa Paula Ortho and Oxnard Ortho, we are committed to providing customized care and a top-notch orthodontic experience. Dr. Lee has years of both dental and orthodontic experience, and is able to provide everything your child needs for a happy, healthy smile. If you’re in the Santa Paula or Oxnard area and are interested in what two-phase orthodontic treatment could offer your child, get in touch with us today. We’re here to give your child their very best smile!