As a parent or caregiver, you want nothing but the best for your child, and that includes a healthy smile. You likely already know that regular dental check-ups play an important role in a child’s oral health, but you may not be aware that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an initial orthodontic evaluation by age 7!
Early evaluations won’t always be followed by early treatment, and we’re often able to simply monitor a child’s growth patterns over the years. However, there are cases where intervention is required at a young age to obtain the most optimal results.
Here at Dream Orthodontics, we’re committed to providing families with expert information on what long-term orthodontic care might look like for their child. Two-phase treatment can be a part of that plan. To learn more about what this is and how it can give our younger patients the best chance at a healthy smile, keep reading below!
Early orthodontic evaluations at Dream Orthodontics
The first step in any child’s orthodontic journey is an evaluation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Morra. Our office is happy to provide this initial consultation at no charge for families in South Surrey and the surrounding areas.
By the age of 6 or 7, when the AAO recommends children have their first orthodontic exam, most kids will usually have a mix of permanent and baby teeth. We look at these and other developmental markers for insight into the basic alignment of the child’s teeth. They also help us determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth to grow in properly.
To put it in the simplest terms, an early evaluation gives our expert team the chance to find, diagnose, and treat a number of common issues before they have the chance to become more serious! This can reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment later on.
If Dr. Morra determines your child is in need of orthodontic care, she may choose to use two phases of treatment that are designed to be proactive rather than reactive.
What is two-phase treatment?
With two-phase treatment, a child will receive orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a rest period in between. The first phase of treatment is generally initiated when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This will typically be followed by a period of no treatment before the second phase begins after all or most of the adult teeth have emerged.
Using two-phase treatment allows us to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into, giving them the best start for a fully functional smile! The two distinct phases of treatment help us promote an optimal oral environment by:
- creating a more harmonious relationship between the teeth and jaws
- aligning the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
When you schedule a visit for your child with Dr. Morra for the first time, she will perform a thorough oral examination. After inspecting their mouth, teeth, and jaws, she may recommend two-phase treatment for your child if any of the following issues are a concern.
- Your child shows signs of a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
- Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- Your child’s jaw bones appear to need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)
Following the normal patterns of childhood growth and development gives us the best chance of achieving improved oral health and a beautiful smile! This method also gives us the best chance at improving and correcting orthodontic issues at the most opportune time. Many common dental problems can be treated easily in a growing child, but become more complex to correct as they get older and the jaw bones stop growing.
Phase 1 treatment usually provides lasting results, and in some cases, it can even lessen the impact of other problems. That said, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the total alignment process.
Phase 1 treatment
Phase 1 treatment helps a child’s jaw develop in a way that better accommodates all the permanent teeth, and can also improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This has a number of benefits for growing children, from an improved ability to bite and chew to more efficient digestion. Phase 1 treatment may also reduce the risk of tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
Children experiencing any of the following issues may be good candidates for Phase 1 treatment.
- Crooked or crowded
- Teeth with a noticeable gap
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don’t come together correctly
- Oral habits that may affect their dental development
- Speech problems
- Jaw out of proportion to the rest of the head
- Incoming permanent teeth that are being obstructed by baby teeth
The rest period
Once the first phase of treatment has been successfully completed, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. At this point, we will normally stop any active orthodontic treatment to give the teeth and jaws a break while the adult teeth emerge. We can keep the teeth stable during this rest period by using a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
Phase 2 treatment
We will generally begin Phase 2 treatment once all the permanent teeth have erupted. This is where everything starts to come together! Braces or clear aligners are often used to achieve the alignment we want. We’ll also use a fixed bonded retainer or removable retainer to ensure long-lasting results, with the teeth staying in their new positions over time.
Give your child the gift of a custom smile with Dream Orthodontics
Every smile is unique and every patient will respond to treatment in their own way. What works for one child isn’t guaranteed to work for another, and that’s why Dream Orthodontics is dedicated to creating individualized treatment plans that take into account each patient’s specific needs and goals.
Our expert team has years of experience providing high-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in our community, including young children. If your child is around the recommended age for their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how their development is progressing. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation!