Is Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment Right for My Child?

If your child shows a need for braces, you will learn there are many different treatment methods orthodontists use to create the perfect smile. Two-phase treatment encourages gradual changes that align with your child’s different phases of growth. The early intervention involved with this treatment method can help decrease the need for invasive corrections, including extractions, of adult teeth. Your orthodontist will likely examine your child’s teeth at an early age when incorrect jaw alignment or other severe dental issues that require this type of treatment are visible. To get started in making this decision, utilize this guide to learn all you need to know about two-phase orthodontic treatment for your child. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an evaluation by an orthodontist when your child is 7 or 8 to evaluate for problems that could benefit from early phase treatment. Many children don’t need intervention at this age, but Dr. Laster is always happy to provide a free consult on pre-adolescent children to give parents the most information possible about their child’s orthodontic future.

Treatment Eligibility Considerations

Your child’s age will play a big role in determining eligibility for the two-phase orthodontic treatment process. Most children who need early orthodontic care will need to be referred to an orthodontist around the age of seven or eight to assess treatment options.

When it comes to braces for kids, their rate of growth can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the treatment. Your dentist will carefully assess the jaw growth rate and other factors to determine if a two-phase orthodontic treatment is best for your child’s needs during their first visit. Dentists also take a look at crowding and other spacing issues that may impact speech, eating habits, and confidence now and in the future. With a clear understanding of your child’s orthodontic needs, your dentist can determine if this type of treatment will offer the greatest benefits.

Understanding Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

By using two stages of treatment, your child’s dentist can utilize noninvasive devices to help promote the healthy growth of the jawbone before fitting braces. This process allows for earlier intervention for problems spotted during pediatric dental exams.

Phase 1

During this first stage, your child will receive any and all of the care needed to properly prepare the teeth and jaw for braces. Your orthodontist will determine the best approach to support proper jaw growth. This phase of treatment will focus on ensuring the upper and lower jaw grows to fully accommodate the permanent teeth. The first stage of treatment also revolves around the elimination of issues that could damage your child’s bite, teeth spacing, and overall dental health. A palatal crib, for example, can be used to prevent the development of an abnormal bite from thumb sucking, which may still be an issue for your child at their young age.

Your orthodontist will examine developing bite issues and find ways to intervene using proven dental appliances. For example, your child may need to wear palatal expanders, to correct bite issues by widening the upper jaw. By using these adjustable expanders, your dentist can account for your child’s growth to correctly adjust the width of the upper jaw. Palatal expanders tend to be the most common phase 1 treatment option for underdeveloped jaws and crowded teeth. But there are many other indications for phase 1 treatment that are less common and good to have an expert eye evaluate.

This attention to detail can help ensure great outcomes at the end of the first and second stages of care.

Phase 2

If your child finishes the first stage of treatment before that time, there will be a rest period in between where your child may have to wear a retainer to maintain the results from the first phase. Once your child’s adult teeth have grown in fully, phase two will begin.

During phase two of the treatment process, orthodontists focus on bringing tooth spacing into proper alignment. To accomplish this goal, braces are usually placed on the upper and lower teeth to facilitate their gradual movement into the correct spaces. Your child may need to have their braces on their teeth for up to 24 months to achieve the orthodontic treatment goals. We are also doing many phase 2 treatments with removable clear aligners now using either Invisalign or LPS (Laster Perfect Smile) aligners to give patients an alternative to braces in less severe cases.

Your child’s braces or aligners will regularly need to be adjusted to ensure they continually push teeth into their correct places. Your child will complete the adjustment appointments on a regular schedule to keep treatment progress on target. Make your child properly cares for their braces during this stage. After having braces removed, many children need to wear a retainer to help their teeth stay in their new positions. Dr. Laster is now making many retainers off digital scans which eliminates the need for messy impressions. It also gives us a permanent record of your teeth the day braces came off just in case a retainer gets lost or broken. The retainer may need to be worn around the clock or only at night, depending on your child’s level of need.

Risks of Forgoing Orthodontic Treatment

Without orthodontic treatment, tooth crowding and bite issues could have a detrimental impact on your child’s ability to eat and speak. Your child may also start to develop confidence issues relating to their tooth spacing issues. Poor jaw alignment also has the potential to cause a lifetime of pain and discomfort as the teeth fail to line up correctly.

Even waiting to start treatment until after all adult teeth come in can prove problematic. Without the important phase one treatments, your child may need invasive treatments performed to prepare for the braces, including adult tooth extractions. Often times doing orthodontic treatment at the correct age will save the patient many painful and costly dental procedures when they get older as they will be less likely to adversely wear down or crack their teeth. In many cases, you can give your child the best chance at enjoying a perfect smile with two-phase orthodontic treatment.

Benefits of Two-Phase Orthodontic Care

Two-phase orthodontic treatment helps to gently correct your child’s bite and tooth spacing issues. With gradual shifts in tooth placement and jaw width, your child will likely feel much less discomfort during and after an adjustment at their orthodontist appointment. As a result, the patient experience improves across the board to help keep your child focused on and enthusiastic about the end result.

During the first and second stages, your dentist can track your child’s growth patterns to prevent overcorrection or other complications. This personalized care approach allows for minute adjustments that ensure treatment results align with your expectations. The ability to intervene early with smart orthodontic care practices often helps reduce the need for potentially invasive corrective procedures.

Considerations for Single Stage Orthodontic Care

In some cases, your orthodontist will suggest a single stage orthodontic treatment for your child. Single-stage treatment may work best for those who are older and want to see rapid results. You will need to weigh your orthodontist’s recommendations in full to identify the best course of treatment to select. As your child’s greatest advocate, you can ask the questions and voice your concerns before selecting the best treatment option possible. Dr. Laster is always happy to discuss pros and cons of different treatment options.

Ask About Two-Phase Treatment at Your Child’s Next Orthodontic Appointment

When you make your child’s next orthodontist appointment, come prepared with questions about two-phase orthodontic treatment and its benefits. Your orthodontist will help you find the perfect level of treatment for your child’s orthodontic needs. Your efforts will pay off in the long run as your child beams back at you after seeing the results of having braces for kids. Dr. Laster and his team are fully prepared to answer all of your questions, and help your child obtain a marvelous smile they will appreciate their whole life.

At Laster Orthodontics, we help families develop healthy, life-changing smiles using customized treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and caring relationships. Our individualized treatment plans help our patients achieve their perfect smile in the quickest, most painless way possible by utilizing a wide range of options from traditional braces to Propel accelerated treatment to Dr. Laster’s in-house aligner program, Laster Perfect Smile. With three locations throughout the Triangle Area, we create life-changing smiles every day.