These days, it’s easier than ever to find the answer to just about anything we want to know with nothing more than a click or two. While it’s incredibly convenient to have so much information at our fingertips, it can be a double-edged sword, too! This is especially true when we’re looking for answers about important topics such as our medical, dental, or oral health. Many queries along these lines return so many results that it can stressful to try and decipher which ones are trustworthy and which ones should be ignored.
If you’ve been wondering if, or when, your child would benefit from orthodontics, you may be feeling overwhelmed or confused by your research. Smith & Heymann Orthodontics is here to help! Our goal is to provide parents and caregivers with clear, concise, and expert guidance you can trust. To understand what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care could look like, keep reading below!
The first step towards a healthier smile for your child
As a parent, you probably already know how important regular dental visits are for maintaining your child’s smile. But did you know that orthodontic evaluations have a role to play in their oral health, too? That’s just one reason why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic exam by around the age of seven. By this time, most kids will have a good mix of permanent and baby teeth. These dental “landmarks” give orthodontists the chance to diagnose and correct many common issues before they can cause more serious problems.
Early orthodontic evaluations and any necessary intervention can help reduce the need for more invasive orthodontic treatment later in life. This process is summed up by something we call two-phase treatment. This specialized service allows us to treat younger patients with a proactive approach rather than a reactive one. It is often recommended for children we anticipate will need orthodontics as they grow.
Understand the ins and outs of two-phase treatment
As the name implies, two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between. The first phase of treatment is usually initiated when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This is then followed by a period of rest before the second phase begins when most or all of the adult teeth have emerged.
With two-phase treatment, we can create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into by:
- creating a more optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws
- aligning the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
During your child’s initial orthodontic examination with one of our doctors, their teeth and jaws will receive a thorough inspection. We may recommend two-phase treatment if we believe
- your child will be prone to 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 jawbones may need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)
Some problems can be treated with relative ease in a growing child, but will require more invasive treatment as they age and their jawbones stop growing. Early treatment can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues, and may even lessen the impact of others. However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment to complete the alignment process we begin with the first phase. This is what gives many of our young patients the best chance for a smile that’s healthy, attractive, and fully functional.
How does two-phase treatment work?
Knowing the basics of each phase and what goes on during the resting period can help you understand how the whole process works together to improve your child’s overall oral health.
The purpose of Phase I treatment is to guide the child’s jaw development so that it can better accommodate all of their permanent teeth. There are numerous other benefits as well, including an improvement in the way the upper and lower jaws fit together and the ability to bite, chew, and digest food more effectively. Phase I treatment can also reduce the risk of tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
Treatment in this phase contributes to long-term stability, meaning the teeth stay in whatever positions they’re guided to. The second phase of treatment continues this stabilizing process by moving the teeth into their final positions. Before we can begin this, there will be a period where the permanent teeth are emerging. While this is occurring, we’ll suspend any orthodontic treatment to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break.
After we have successfully achieved the first phase of treatment, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. We’ll keep teeth stable during the resting period by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
Everything starts coming together with this phase! We’ll normally initiate this phase once all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted, and it will often require the use of traditional braces or clear aligner therapy. Once treatment is complete, we’ll provide your child with a retainer to ensure that the newly straightened teeth stay in place.
Your child’s best smile starts at Smith & Heymann Orthodontics
Your child is special, and so is their smile. Their orthodontic treatment should reflect that! At Smith & Heymann Orthodontics, we build every treatment plan around the patient’s specific needs, goals, and lifestyle. Our personalized care, state-of-the-art technology, and experience as a team guarantee the best results in the least amount of time!
Is your child ready for their first orthodontic evaluation? We’d love to meet you both! Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our four conveniently located offices and take the first step towards your child’s best smile.