There’s a lot of information available about orthodontics, and when you’re trying to decide if, when, and what kind of treatment your child will need, it can become a little overwhelming. Bluebird Orthodontics is committed to helping parents understand what a long-term plan for a child’s orthodontic care is likely to look like. This doesn’t have to be a stressful experience for you or your child! It’s our goal to provide clear, concise, and trusted information from an expert source.
The first step to ensuring your child has a healthy, aligned smile is a thorough orthodontic evaluation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Frank. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic consultation by the age of seven, and we agree! This gives us the opportunity to find, diagnose, and treat many common dental issues before they have a chance to become more serious. This kind of early intervention can reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment at a later age, and it can be summed up by the process of two-phase treatment.
Two-phase treatment is a specialized service that is designed to be proactive rather than reactive. This benefits younger patients that we anticipate will need orthodontics as they grow. To learn more about this treatment process, and how it can benefit your child’s oral health, keep reading below!
What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?
With two-phase treatment, a child will receive orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between. The first phase of treatment is generally initiated when the child still has a mix of baby and permanent teeth. There will then be a period of rest before the second phase begins, usually once most or all of the adult teeth are present. Although braces or other orthodontic appliances may sometimes be used during the first phase, this will depend on the specifics of each individual case. It’s much more common for braces or aligners to be used in the second phase of treatment.
We will often recommend two-phase treatment to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into. This happens 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
- giving a child the best start for a healthy, attractive smile that is also fully functional.
During an orthodontic examination, Dr. Frank will thoroughly inspect your child’s teeth and jaws. She may recommend two-phase treatment if:
- it appears that he or she will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
- he or she already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- your child’s jaw bones may need a little bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)
Following the patterns of normal childhood growth and development gives us the best chance to improve and correct any orthodontic issues early on. For this reason, we tend to time the first phase of orthodontic treatment in order to take advantage of these predictable stages of dental development. There are many common dental problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child, but these same issues may require more invasive treatment as they age and their jawbones stop growing. Early treatment can achieve lasting results for many of these issues, and may be able to lessen the impact of others. However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the alignment process that begins with the first phase.
How does two-phase treatment work?
Knowing the particulars of each phase and what goes on during the resting period will help you understand how they all work together to improve your child’s oral health.
Phase one treatment will usually be initiated to help a child’s jaw develop in a way that accommodates all the permanent teeth. It can also improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment has numerous benefits, including an improved ability to bite, chew, and even digest food more effectively, as well as reducing the risk of damaged teeth due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
Treatment in this phase contributes to longer-term stability. This simply means that the teeth will stay in whatever position Dr. Frank guides them to. The second phase of treatment will continue this stabilization by moving the teeth into their final positions. But before we can begin this second phase, there will be a period of time where the permanent teeth are emerging. While this is occurring, we will suspend any orthodontic treatment in order to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break.
Once the first phase of treatment has been successfully completed, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. Any teeth that have been moved will be stabilized using either a space maintainer or a fixed (non-removable) retainer during the resting period.
The second phase of treatment is where everything begins to come together! We’ll normally initiate this phase once all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted. Successful treatment in phase two generally requires the use of braces or clear aligner therapy. Once this orthodontic treatment is complete, fixed bonded retainers are usually necessary to ensure that their newly straightened smile stays in place.
If we recommend two-phase treatment for your child, there are some simple things you can do to help them achieve the best results. This includes encouraging your child to:
- follow our instructions for the maintenance and care of their teeth and orthodontic appliance
- maintain a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing every night before bed
- keep all scheduled appointments with Dr. Frank so that our team can accurately monitor their progress
- visit their regular dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning
- avoid any foods that can damage their appliance or teeth, including anything too crunchy or sticky
- maintain a healthy, varied diet
Creating customized solutions with Bluebird Orthodontics
Here at Bluebird Orthodontics, we don’t believe in “one size fits all” treatment. Orthodontics should never take a cookie-cutter approach since all smiles are not created equally! What works for one child may not work for another, and our team is committed to designing customized treatment plans based on each patient’s unique needs and goals. We’re proud to provide high-quality, individualized orthodontic care to families in Commack and the surrounding communities. If you have a child who is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, or want to learn more about how two-phase orthodontic treatmentcould improve their smile, get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Frank. There’s never been a better time to start working towards your child’s best smile!