When a child is experiencing an orthodontic issue that doesn’t seem to be getting any better, there is a method orthodontists use that can correct it, which at the same time prevents future problems. Known as developmental, or two-phase orthodontic treatment, this specialized process can result in a healthy smile for the rest of your child’s life. Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved with this treatment.
What Kinds Of Conditions Can Two-phase Treatment Correct?
This method can be used to correct many kinds of problems that will only worsen over time if left untreated. Children with tooth damage during formation, or who have a narrow palate can benefit from this treatment. The same is true of children with a thumb-sucking habit that is causing their front teeth to stick out.
Orthodontic care will also help children who have an unusual bite or teeth that appear to be very crowded. Finally, if your children tend to breathe through their mouths or snore during sleep, this is definitely a good reason to bring them in, as this may require correction to more than the teeth.
Benefits Of Early Correction
Two-phase treatment begins when a child is between the ages of seven and ten. In correcting these issues early on in their development, the need and cost of correcting future problems can be drastically reduced or eliminated completely.
Early correction also allows a child’s dental development and growth to be monitored and any issues to be corrected when they’re identified. Families who bring their children in for orthodontic screening at an early age also get the benefit of knowing what to expect down the road. This offers the opportunity to put a savings plan in place.
What Happens In Phase 1
The first phase of treatment is all about jaw development and permanent teeth. Phase one will make sure there’s enough room when permanent teeth come in and also corrects the alignment of the jaws.
The Orthodontic Record
A series of orthodontic records will need to be created for your child in the first phase. These records will include photos and x-rays, as well as models of their teeth.
Every piece of this information is necessary for your orthodontist to have because they will be used as tools for determining whether treatment is needed. If it is, the models and photos will help your orthodontist determine the best course of orthodontic treatment, including:
- How many visits your child will need
- What kinds of appliances will be needed
- The length of time required for appliance wear
All of the above depends on the number and type of issues your child is having. If the orthodontist determines no treatment is currently necessary, they may still suggest monitoring to ensure the jaw and teeth are in their optimal positions.
Extraction or Wearing of Appliances
Sometimes, one or more baby teeth may need to be removed to allow for healthier growth of permanent teeth. Some children need to wear an appliance to help encourage the movement of the teeth or jawbone. Some examples include banding or bonding of teeth or the wearing of an arch to hold any space made by removing teeth.
Wait for Adult Teeth
At the end of phase one, there’s what’s called a “resting period.” All this means is that we will wait until their permanent teeth have come in. During this time, your child will have to come in periodically—about twice per year—so that the orthodontist can monitor how their teeth are doing. If the first phase of treatment has been successful, their teeth will have enough room to come in as properly as possible.
What Happens In Phase 2
The main goal of phase 2 is to ensure your child’s teeth remain healthy for life. This means making sure that each individual tooth is in the right place in relation to other teeth as well as to their tongue, cheeks, and lips.
Thanks to all of the records they made in Phase 1, your orthodontist will now have what they need to be able to compare the current position of your children’s teeth and jaws to where they were before. It’s in this phase that the treatment plan may need to be fine-tuned to include anything that may have happened between then and now.
Installation of Braces
The best way to achieve optimal alignment of the teeth and jaws is to begin orthodontic braces treatment on both the upper and the lower teeth. In order to do this, metal brackets will be attached to each tooth using a kind of dental cement.
Wire is placed between each set of brackets. This wire will be adjusted periodically to add pressure to the teeth and move them into their proper position. It may also be necessary to add rubber bands, coils, or springs to braces if a bit of extra force is needed to shift the jaw.
Length of Time for Treatment
Because teeth and jaws need time to shift into the right positions, you can expect your child to be in braces for around two years. After they’re removed, your child will have to wear a retainer for several months to maintain the new positions of their teeth and keep their jaw properly aligned.
Should You Hold Off On Treatment?
Many parents ask why they can’t wait until their child’s permanent teeth have come in instead of going through the first phase. The problem is that, by waiting until this point, any issue their child may have with their jaws or teeth is likely to get worse.
When an orthodontic condition is left to worsen, the result can be far more serious and, ultimately, far more costly and time-consuming to correct.
Early Treatment Can Save Your Child’s Smile
Your children are growing fast, and so are their teeth and jaws. Having a plan that lays a solid foundation with the first phase and continues with braces treatment allows for alignment and maintenance in the second phase, so you and your children can avoid future problems with their teeth that may require more serious intervention than braces.
The Best Time Is Now
Even if your children don’t look as though they have problems, the reality is that the only way to tell is to have orthodontic records made. These records allow your orthodontist to get a really good look at your children’s teeth from every angle and to diagnose any developing problems early enough that they can be corrected.
Affordable Orthodontic Treatment For All Ages
If you’re concerned about your child’s smile and are ready to explore the benefits of two-phase treatment, an orthodontist is always the best choice. Labbe Family Orthodontics is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic care for all ages.
Our flexible payment plans and our acceptance of most types of insurance coverage will make it easier to obtain the treatment your child needs. Because we only work with expert doctors, you can ensure that every critical decision is informed by their experience.
We understand the life of a busy family, which is why we make it easy for you to make an appointment for your child or yourself. You’ll both love our fun and positive environment and, no matter if you visit our Annapolis, Bowie, or Crofton & Greenbelt locations, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff and specialists who will always treat you like family.
Life is definitely better with a smile, and the healthier the smile, the better. If you’re ready to begin the process of two-phase orthodontic treatment for your child, simply give us a call to schedule your appointment: (410) 267-7300. We look forward to meeting you!