The phrase “timing is everything” is applicable to a lot of things in life, including orthodontic treatment. Trying to work out a long-term plan for your child’s smile can sometimes be stressful and confusing, but it does not have to be! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic consultation by the age of seven, and Sawgrass Orthodontics agree. This gives experienced orthodontists like Dr. Kristen and Dr. Penny the opportunity to diagnose many common dental issues before they have a chance to become more serious.

This early intervention has been shown to reduce the overall need for more complex orthodontic treatment at a later age, and the idea of being proactive rather than reactive with your child’s oral health can be summed up in two-phase treatment. But what exactly is this, and how can it benefit your child? Let us take a look!

What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that consists of a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between these phases. The first phase of treatment will generally begin while the child has a mix of  baby teeth and adult teeth. The second phase will follow once the child has most or all of their permanent teeth. Depending on the specifics of each individual case, braces or other orthodontic appliances may or may not be used during the first phase of treatment.

Two-phase treatment can play an important role in giving your child the best start for a  healthy, functional, and beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. The goals of two-phase treatment are:

  • To ensure a working relationship between the teeth and jaws
  • To align the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
  • To position the teeth and jaws for pleasing facial symmetry

What would qualify a child for two-phase treatment?

Once Dr. Kristen or Dr. Penny complete a thorough examination of your child’s mouth, they may recommend two-phase treatment with the goal of creating a better environment for the permanent teeth to grow in. The first phase of treatment may be suggested if:

  • your child appears prone to a particular problem that we want to prevent from developing (preventive treatment)
  • your child has an already developing problem we want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
  • your child needs guidance in the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth (growth modification)

By timing the first phase of orthodontic treatment to the predictable stages of dental development, we are able to take advantage of normal childhood growth and development, providing us with the most potential for the improvement and correction of any suspected or present orthodontic issues early on.

There are many common dental problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child that may require more invasive treatment if implemented after most growth has already occurred. Early treatment can achieve lasting results for some of these issues, or at least lessen the impact of others. Even so, most patients will require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the alignment that is started during the first phase of treatment.

How does two-phase treatment work?

In order to fully understand the way two-phase treatment works, and how it could benefit your child, it is important to understand the ins and outs of each phase, as well as what goes on in the resting period between them.

Phase One

As mentioned above, phase one treatment is usually initiated in an effort to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of your child’s permanent teeth, as well as improve the way their upper and lower jaws fit together.

This method of treatment can benefit patients in any number of ways, including an improved ability to bite, chew, or even digest food more effectively. It can also reduce the risk of damaged teeth due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws. There may even be some unexpected emotional benefits as self-esteem and self-confidence increase, something that is important at any age, but particularly in our younger patients!

First phase treatment contributes to longer-term stability, with the teeth staying in whatever position they are moved to. The second phase of treatment will continue that trend by moving the teeth into their final desired positions, but before this phase is initiated, there will need to be a period of rest.

Resting Period

A successful first phase creates room for the remaining permanent teeth to have a clear path to erupt in, and most orthodontists believe it is best to allow them some freedom of movement as this occurs. During this time, we tend to avoid using any retainers or fixed appliances.

Phase Two

During the first phase, our doctors will establish a diagnosis and create a customized treatment plan for your child. We may have used certain types of appliances to correct and realign their teeth and jaws. The second phase is where we begin to pull everything together!

We will normally begin this phase once all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted. It will often require braces or clear aligners to be used for a time, and once treatment is complete, retainers will be necessary to ensure their newly straightened smile stays that way. If you decide to proceed with two-phase treatment once you have discussed it with our doctors, you can help make the most of it by helping your child:

  • follow our recommendations for maintenance and care
  • keep their appliances, teeth, and gums clean by encouraging an excellent dental hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day
  • keep scheduled appointments with our office so we can closely monitor their progress
  • visit their regular dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning
  • avoid any foods that can damage their appliance
  • maintain a healthy diet

Exploring customized two-phase treatment with Sawgrass Orthodontics

Here at Sawgrass Orthodontics, we do not believe in a “one size fits all” approach to smiles. Every patient we see has their own set of problems that will require a unique treatment plan designed just for them. What is right for one child will not necessarily be right for another, and that is why Dr. Kristen and Dr. Penny are dedicated to finding the best fit for your child when it comes to orthodontic treatment. Our skilled staff take pride in providing quality care to all the families we serve in the Davie, Weston, Plantation, Cooper City, and Sunrise areas. If you are interested in learning more about two-phase orthodontic treatment, and how it could improve your child’s oral health, get in touch with us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We will help you discover your child’s best and brightest smile!

- Dr. Langford

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