Here at Jennings Orthodontics, we have many different treatment methods for creating the perfect smile for your child. Two-phase treatment is an example of one such method. This is an early intervention option that encourages gradual changes to a child’s teeth that align with their different phases of growth. Doing so can help decrease the need for more invasive corrections later. This one reason why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re about 7 years of age! Most often, children don’t need intervention at this age and Dr. Jennings is very conservative and bases treatment decisions on the current research. However, if your child is one of the children that would benefit from early treatment, it’s essential to catch those problems early. Therefore, a screening visit usually results in educating you about your child’s mouth and possible future orthodontic needs. On the occasion that we catch a big problem that is starting to develop we can choose the best method to correct the problem before it gets worse.
While many young children won’t need any treatment at this age, it gives orthodontists the chance to diagnose and treat any issues that would benefit from immediate attention. Our goal is to provide parents and caregivers with expert information on what long-term orthodontic care might look like for their child. If you’ve ever wondered if, and when, your child may need orthodontic treatment, keep reading below to learn how two-phase treatment can give their smile the best start possible!
Who is a good candidate for two-phase treatment?
The first step towards a healthier smile for your child is a consultation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Jennings. We provide this initial visit at no charge! During this appointment, we’ll take a few x-rays of your child’s teeth and the supporting bone structure to give us an idea of what’s happening below the surface of their smile.
She’ll also perform a comprehensive oral exam before using these diagnostic records to determine if any immediate treatment is indicated.
At this age, most young children will have a mix of permanent and baby teeth, including their first adult molars. These are considered to be developmental markers that allow some insight into the basic alignment of a child’s teeth. By looking at how these teeth are growing, Dr. Jennings will be able to determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth to grow in properly. A child’s rate of growth can have a big impact on the effectiveness of treatment, so she will also assess your child’s jaw growth rate. If any of the following issues are a concern, two-phase treatment may be recommended.
- 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 want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- Your child’s jawbones appear to need some extra guidance as they grow (growth modification)
By using two stages of treatment, we are often able to utilize noninvasive devices first to help promote the healthy growth of the jawbone before fitting braces or aligners. We’ll take a closer look at each phase of treatment below.
During this first stage of treatment, Dr. Jennings will determine the best approach to support proper jaw growth and prepare the teeth and jaw for the appliance we will use later. In Phase I, the focus is on ensuring the upper and lower jaw are growing in proper alignment. There is also an emphasis on eliminating issues that can damage a child’s bite, spacing, and dental health, like extended thumb sucking or crossbites.
Children who have any of the following issues may respond well to Phase 1 treatment.
- Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don’t come together correctly
- Oral habits that may affect their dental development
- Speech problems
- A jaw that is out of proportion to the rest of the head
- Emerging adult teeth that are being obstructed by baby teeth
Dental appliances like palatal expanders tend to be the most common treatment in Phase I, but every case is different. Dr. Jennings will create a treatment plan for your child based on their own unique needs and goals.
The goal of any orthodontic treatment is long-term stability—we want the teeth to stay put in whatever positions we’ve guided them to! Once the first phase of treatment has been completed, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. As we wait for these teeth to begin emerging, we will typically suspend any orthodontic treatment in order to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break. We can keep the teeth stable during this time by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
We will normally initiate Phase II treatment once your child’s permanent teeth have fully grown in. In this stage, we focus on bringing the teeth into proper alignment. To accomplish this, braces are often placed on the upper and lower teeth to gradually shift them into the desired positions. We can use traditional metal or clear braces, and in many cases, may be able to achieve the same results with Invisalign clear aligners. After the active phase of treatment is complete, a fixed bonded retainer or removable retainer will be provided to ensure the child’s straightened teeth remain in their new positions.
What are the benefits of two-phase treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment can help to gently correct your child’s bite and tooth spacing issues. Dr. Jennings will also be able to track your child’s growth patterns to prevent overcorrection and other complications. This approach allows for minute adjustments to ensure the best results possible! Early intervention can also help reduce the need for potentially invasive corrective procedures later in life.
A stunning smile starts with Jennings Orthodontics
Every child is unique, and so is their smile. At Jennings Orthodontics, every patient will receive an individualized treatment plan and personalized care that is built around their particular needs, lifestyle, and goals. If you have a child who is ready for their first orthodontic visit, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Jennings. There’s never been a better time to take the first step towards a healthy smile that will last your child a lifetime!