The majority of parents tend to think that kids don’t need to treat crooked teeth or misaligned bites until they are well into their teens. While it does make sense to wait to do most of your child’s treatment until most of their adult teeth have come in, there are times when it is better to begin when baby teeth are still in your child’s mouth. In this post, we’ll take you through the basic insights of two-phase orthodontic treatment. Let’s get cracking.
Today, you might hear your child’s orthodontist recommend two-phase orthodontic treatment that is designed to improve the alignment of their teeth before they have all of their adult teeth grow in. Understanding why this is done helps you to see the importance of beginning your child’s treatment according to their orthodontist’s recommendations.
What goes into Two-phase Orthodontic Treatment?
Kids Should Visit the Orthodontist by the Age of Seven
- Parents sometimes claim that seven is too young to go to the orthodontist. However, a quick peek at your child’s smile will likely reveal that they already have quite a few of their adult teeth. By now, your child may have all eight of their top and bottom front teeth along with their canines. The alignment of these teeth can often reveal a great deal of information about how much their smile will need correction over the upcoming years. For instance, top teeth that have a large gap between them may reveal that your child won’t have enough space in their mouth for their adult teeth to come in.
- Keep in mind that your child’s orthodontist will use more methods than just a visual exam to determine what types of treatment they need right now. They can take measurements of their jaw and use information gleaned from x-rays or 3-D scans of your child’s mouth to get a better idea of how their oral health needs will change with their new teeth growing in. If you worry about how your child will do during an exam when they are so young, then don’t be. Most kids find the initial exam comfortable, and your child will likely find that it is no more challenging to sit through than any other type of health exam.
The Initial Phase Does Not Always Involve Braces
- You may also be worried about how your child will manage wearing braces when they may still need help brushing their teeth. Fortunately, this is another area where you can relax. Many children do not need to wear braces during the first phase of their treatment. Instead, your child may need to use appliances that help to create space in their mouth such as a palatal expander. This can help to actually prevent your child from needing to wear braces later on.
- Special retainers may also be used at night to begin the process of changing the alignment of your child’s jaw. Doing the treatment at night is less invasive, and your child will be able to spend the majority of their day not even thinking about their orthodontic treatment. If your child does need braces, then their orthodontist will likely try to minimize how many brackets are worn in their mouths. They may also choose to use traditional metal braces that are less likely to be lost or broken by a younger child.
Kids Take a Break During Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment
- No, your child will not be wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances for years. Most children complete their initial phase of treatment in about one year. This means that a child who begins treatment when they are seven or eight will have a period of time after they complete their first phase when they need to wait for their adult teeth to come in. Usually, children wear a retainer during their resting period that helps to maintain the work that has already been done.
- Once your child’s adult molars make their appearance, they will usually be ready to move forward with the second phase. This phase may also require them to wear braces or use other types of appliances to begin training their teeth to go in the right positions. Since most children are around 12 years of age or older for this phase, we may be able to offer more options. For instance, older teens often welcome the chance to wear Invisalign retainers that give them more freedom regarding eating their favorite foods.
Starting Early Can Prevent More Invasive Forms of Treatment
- The main purpose of starting orthodontic treatment so early for some kids is not merely to make their smile look pretty. Instead, we only recommend this level of treatment when it is clear that waiting can lead to more problems. Younger people are still in a phase of life where their jaw is still growing, and we can do things to change the alignment of the jaw before a badly aligned one becomes permanent. In some cases, using retainers or braces now could even save your kid from needing surgery later.
- Creating more space in your child’s mouth may also mean that they can avoid more invasive extractions later on. They may also find that their teeth are healthier over the years since correcting buck teeth or a misaligned bite can prevent fractures and cracks in the tooth enamel.
Orthodontists Are Trained to Work With Younger Children
- Young kids can sometimes be energetic and wiggly in the chair. They may also be nervous about going to the orthodontist. These are all expected reactions and perfectly normal for younger people. When your child comes to our office for their visit, we always follow age-appropriate practices that help them feel comfortable. We can take breaks during a procedure to let your child stretch their legs or let their jaw relax. We also work hard to educate young patients about their oral health.
Does your child’s smile seem like something is not quite right now that they have some adult teeth growing in, or have they reached the age of seven? If so, these are two good signs that they need to visit our office for two-phase orthodontic treatment. Give us a call and we’ll get your child in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Schulhof that gives you peace of mind about their smile.
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New Jersey Office
400 Kinderkamack Rd.
Oradell, NJ 07649
What is Two-phase Orthodontic Treatment? | FAST FACTS in 2020