When it comes to kids, the phrase “timing is everything” has an awful lot of uses, including the planning of orthodontic treatment. Trying to work out if, when, and what kind of help your child will need with their smile can be a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s easy to get confused by it, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience! Brodsky Orthodontics is happy to help you understand what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care is likely to include.
The first step in any journey to a straighter, healthier smile is an initial orthodontic evaluation. We agree with the recommendation issued by The American Association of Orthodontists that all children have their first orthodontic consultation by the age of seven, as this gives our doctors the chance to find and diagnose many common dental issues before they have a chance to become more serious. This kind of early intervention can reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment at a later age.
When we talk about this idea of being proactive with your child’s oral health instead of reactive, it can be summed up by two-phase treatment, a specialized service we offer for our younger patients we anticipate will need orthodontics as they grow. Let us take a look at what this treatment is, and how it can benefit your child.
What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase treatment is a process consisting of a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between. Generally, the first phase of treatment begins when the child has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. There is then a period of rest before the second phase starts, usually once the child has most or all of their adult teeth. Sometimes braces or other orthodontic appliances are used during the first phase, but this depends on the specifics of each individual case. More often, braces or aligners are used in the second phase of treatment.
Two-phase orthodontic treatment can be used to:
- create an optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws
- align the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- position the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
- give your child the best start for a healthy, functional smile
This treatment will generally be recommended with the goal of creating a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow in. After a thorough examination by one of our doctors, the first phase of treatment may be suggested for your child if:
- we feel he or she will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
- he or she already has a developing problem that we want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- we believe your child’s jaw bones need a little guidance as they grow (growth modification)
We time the first phase of orthodontic treatment in order to take advantage of the predictable stages of dental development. Following the patterns of normal childhood growth and development provides us with the best chance to improve and correct any orthodontic issues early on. Many common dental problems can be treated relatively easily in a growing child. However, as they get older and the jaw bones stop growing, these same issues may require more invasive treatment. Early treatment is able to achieve lasting results for many of these issues, and can lessen the impact of others, but most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the alignment the first phase has begun.
How does two-phase treatment work?
Before you can understand how two-phase treatment works to benefit your child’s smile, it’s important to know the ins and outs of each phase, as well as what goes on during the resting period in between them.
Phase one treatment is often initiated to help a child’s jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all the permanent teeth, as well as improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment can benefit patients in many ways, including an improved ability to bite, chew, or even digest food more effectively. It may also reduce the risk of damaged teeth due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
This treatment contributes to longer-term stability, meaning the teeth will stay in whatever position our orthodontists move them to. The second phase of treatment will continue this stabilization by moving the teeth into their final, better positions. But before this phase is initiated, there will be a period of time where the permanent teeth are emerging, and we hit the pause button on orthodontic treatment in order to let the teeth, jaws, and mouth have a temporary break.
After successful first phase treatment, there will be enough room for the remaining permanent teeth to have a clear eruption path. The teeth that have been moved will be stabilized with either a space maintainer or fixed (non-removable) type of retainer.
The second phase is where everything begins to come together! We will normally begin this phase once all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted, and it will often require braces or clear aligners to be used for a time. Once a child’s treatment is complete, fixed bonded retainers will be necessary to ensure their newly straightened smile stays that way. If you have decided to go ahead with two-phase treatments based on our doctors’ recommendation, you can help your child make the most of their smile by encouraging them to:
- follow our instructions for maintenance and care of their teeth and their appliance
- maintain an excellent dental hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day
- keep all scheduled appointments with our orthodontists so we can monitor progress
- visit their regular dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning
- avoiding any foods that can damage their appliance or teeth
- maintain a healthy diet
Find your child’s best smile with two-phase treatment by Brodsky Orthodontics
Orthodontics should never be about a “one size fits all” solution. What works for one child may not work for another, and that’s why Drs. Brodsky are dedicated to designing unique treatment plans for each patient we see, based on his or her specific needs and goals. With a friendly, skilled staff, conveniently located office, and experienced orthodontists, Brodsky Orthodontics is proud to provide the highest quality orthodontic care to families in our community. If you’re in Lakewood or the surrounding areas and want to learn more about how two-phase orthodontic treatment could improve your child’s oral health, get in touch with us today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We are here to help you find your child’s healthiest, best, and brightest smile!