At Smith & Heymann Orthodontics, we love helping patients of all ages achieve a beautiful and healthy smile. When most people think of orthodontic treatment, they often imagine older children and teens wearing braces or aligners. While this is certainly common, and often preferred, some specific issues are best addressed with early intervention.
What is Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?
Now, you might be wondering, what exactly is two-phase orthodontic treatment, and why might it be beneficial for my child? Well, we’re glad you asked! With this type of treatment, we address orthodontic concerns in two separate stages. An initial interceptive stage typically begins when a child is around 7-9 years old when both permanent and baby teeth present. This phase focuses on correcting specific issues that if corrected early improve treatment outcomes long term, or simplify later treatment. After the inital phase patients are seen several times a year to monitor growth and development as well as the eruption of the permanent teeth. A second stage, which can involve braces or aligners, is initiated when the child is older and has all permanent teeth. This phase finalizes both alignment and bite correction.
Why Two Phases?
At Smith and Heymann Orthodontics our goal is to provide the best possible treatment, while keeping treatment as simple as possible, and as brief as possible. We will only recommend interceptive treatment if it will provide an advantage over starting later. By starting treatment early, we are often able to guide the growth and development of your child’s jaw and teeth, which can lead to a healthier bite and more stable results in the long run. The goal of early treatment is to take advantage of ideal treatment timing to set your child up for success when it comes to orthodontic health.
It’s important to note that most children will not need two-phase treatment, but if we do recommend it, rest assured that we’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure your child receives the best care possible. If early treatment is not indicated, we will montior your childs growth and dental development to make sure treatment is indiacated at the ideal time.
What if I delay treatment?
Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your child’s smile and bite. When needed, early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results.
Who Needs Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?
While most children will benefit from one simple phase of orthodontic treatment, this leaves roughly 10% for whom a two-phase approach is most helpful to secure your child’s perfect smile and best possible oral health. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child receive their first Orthodontist evaluation by age 7.
This is the case as, by age 7; your child should have a mix of baby teeth and permanent eruptions (the technical term for budding teeth). Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad can quickly determine at this point in your child’s development a good picture of how their teeth and jaw will end up. This means that any developing issues, such as crowding, a potential under/overbite, crossbite, or many other problems, can be most effectively addressed before they more firmly take root.
While Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad may decide to wait and see how things proceed instead of going ahead and forming a two-phase treatment plan, it’s important that your child receives the earliest possible interventions to minimize issues down the line.
How Can My Child Benefit From Two-Phase Treatment?
If Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad recommend two-phase treatment plan, you can expect your child to receive the following advantages from such an approach:
Two Phase treatment can:
- Ensure the jaw develops with enough space for permanent teeth, in particular, the canines
- Can minimize the risk of having permanent teeth pulled due to misplacement.
- Many issues are easily fixed during your child’s early development that would require surgery later in life.
- Two-phase treatment is particularly effective at normalizing the relationship between the upper and lower jaw, especially in preventing the development of an underbite.
- Can fix prolonged sucking or improper swallowing problems.
- Improper pressure often shifts teeth towards improper directions and/or alters the shape of the jawbone supporting the teeth.
- Can fix the tendency of upper teeth to jut out too far, resulting in their likely injury due to accidents.
Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad can ensure that these issues and more don’t have time to take root if he determines that two-phase treatment is right for your child.
What Will Our Treatment Look Like?
Just like it sounds, two-phase treatment consists of a first and second phase. They proceed as follows:
Phase One: Early Interceptive Treatment
Phase One treatment is all about helping the jaw to grow in such a way as to ensure that it accommodates your child’s permanent teeth, as well as fostering proper development of the upper and lower jaw. It is early in your child’s life (7 and up) that Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad can recognize the first signs of problematic jaw growth. If your child’s upper jaw is growing too much or too narrowly in relation to the lower, that can be recognized. Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad can take the opportunity in early interceptive treatment to begin treating tooth crowding issues.
The planning of phase one can help lay down the best possible outcome for your child’s orthodontic care. Records are made during phase one to guide the course of treatment. Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad can then make decisions about the type of appliances to be used, the likely duration of treatment, as well as how often your child should come into the office.
The resting phase is an essential period during which the permanent teeth are allowed to erupt without intervention. If the permanent teeth’s growth is misguided during this period, they may become impacted or badly misplaced. Often it is best to allow unrestricted eruption, which gives the permanent teeth the necessary freedom to move about as they grow and develop. The initial work performed during the first phase will make room for the permanents to come in their ideal configurations.
So the resting period is about monitoring the progress of your child’s growing teeth and developing the best intervention plan during phase two. During the resting phase, Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad may selectively remove certain baby teeth. This is performed (if necessary) to provide the permanents with proper space for eruption and development. During the resting period, you can expect to bring your child in roughly twice a year to keep things moving in the right direction.
Phase Two: Appliances, specific interventions.
Phase two is when Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad will take control to ensure that each tooth is placed correctly in the mouth and is in equilibrium with the other teeth, the jaws, lips, cheeks, and tongues. Once done, treatment will successfully conclude.
Phase two is when the more familiar aspects of orthodontic care will occur. That means braces or Invisalign aligners on both the upper and lower sets of teeth where appropriate. Phase one takes advantage of the planning and records made during the first phase of treatment. Phase one will conclude with your child’s usage of a retainer to keep his or her finely-crafted, healthy smile and jaw!
Call Today to Set Your Child Up For Success!
Thanks so much for taking the time to learn about two-phase orthodontic treatment. Here at Smith & Heymann Orthodontics, we’re proud to serve our community in and around Durham, Chapel Hill, Mebane, Roxboro, and the surroundings. We take your child’s tooth and jaw health seriously, and we know you do too.
We’ll see you soon!