Did you know that orthodontic treatment is not just for teens and adults? In fact, the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that by the age of 7, children should have an initial orthodontic consultation. These comprehensive consultations determine whether or not a child’s teeth are developing properly or if early orthodontic treatment is or will be needed in the future.
Phase 1 vs Phase 2 Orthodontics
The typical process for Phase 1 orthodontic treatment involves a patient being fitted for their appliance (braces for example) which is worn until their teeth move into their proper positions. Some patients may require extractions or surgery prior to beginning treatment. Once the teeth are properly aligned, the patient wears a retainer to keep the teeth from shifting back.
Two-phase orthodontic treatment differs from Phase 1 in that the first part of treatment is done while the patient still has most of their baby teeth. The goal of two-phase orthodontic treatment is to minimize development problems early so that treatment in their teens will be faster.
Who Benefits From Two Phases?
It is important to note that not everyone requires two-phase orthodontic treatment. Certain types of orthodontic problems respond well to two-phase orthodontic treatment while others may require additional work. Common oral problems two-phase orthodontic treatment can be used to correct include:
- Crossbites – early correction for a cross-bite can help stop lower jaw problems from becoming worse.
- Extreme Crowding – starting with phase 1 treatment can create more room in the mouth, reducing or eliminating the need for future tooth extraction.
- Protrusive Front Teeth (teeth that stick out) – are at higher risk of being damaged, particularly for very active children, and moving them back could prevent an injury.
When One Phase Is Enough
While some parents prefer the proactive approach of getting their child in for an orthodontic consultation sooner than later, it must be remembered that two-phase orthodontic treatment is not for everyone. Some patients are able to correct their oral issues after just one phase. In some cases, even if two-phase orthodontics is recommended, the child may not be able to begin treatment if they are too young.
Just Ask Us!
If you’re curious about the development of your child’s smile or wonder if they are old enough for orthodontic treatment, contact our office to schedule a complimentary consultation with orthodontist Dr. Eric Wu. We make your child’s smile our priority.