If the early bird gets the worm, then early treatment can sometimes produce the healthiest smiles! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an initial orthodontic evaluation by about age 7, but what makes this early screening and possible treatment so important?
Here at Champlain Orthodontics, we want to provide parents and caregivers with expert information on what long-term orthodontic care might look like for their child. Early evaluations won’t always be followed by early treatment, and in most cases, we’re able to simply monitor a child’s growth patterns. However, there will be times when intervention is required at a young age to obtain the most optimal results.
If you’ve been wondering if, and when, your child may need orthodontic treatment, keep reading below to learn more about how two-phase treatment can give them the best chance at a healthy smile that looks and feels great!
Orthodontic evaluations at Champlain Orthodontics
The first step in any orthodontic journey is an evaluation with an experienced orthodontist. Dr. Ryan and Dr. Eaton are proud to provide this initial consultation at no charge for families in Williston, St. Albans, and the surrounding communities!
As mentioned above, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic examination by around the age of seven. That’s because at this stage, most children will usually have a mix of permanent and baby teeth, including the first adult molars. These are developmental markers that allow us some insight into the basic alignment of a child’s teeth, from front to back and side to side. It also helps our doctors to determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth to grow in properly.
Put simply, an early evaluation gives our expert team the chance to find, diagnose, and treat a number of common dental issues before they have the chance to become more serious! They can also help reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment later on. If you have a young child in need of orthodontic care, our doctors may choose to use two phases of treatment that are designed to be proactive rather than reactive.
Understanding Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment
Two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a rest period in between. In most cases, the first phase of treatment is initiated when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This is followed by a period of no treatment before the second phase begins, which usually occurs once most or all of the adult teeth have emerged.
Using two-phase treatment allows us to create a better overall environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into, giving them the best start for a fully functioning smile! These two distinct phases of treatment help us promote a more optimal oral environment by:
- creating a more harmonious relationship between the teeth and jaws
- aligning the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
When your child visits Champlain Orthodontics for the first time, they will receive a thorough oral examination by Dr. Ryan or Dr. Eaton. After inspecting the mouth, teeth, and jaws, our doctors may recommend two-phase treatment of any of the following issues are a concern.
- Your child shows signs of a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
- Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- Your child’s jaw bones appear to need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)
Our doctors believe that following the normal patterns of childhood growth and development will ensure improved oral health and the healthiest smiles. This also gives our team the best chance to improve and correct orthodontic issues at the most opportune time! There are many common dental problems that can be treated easily in a growing child, but as they get older, more invasive treatment may be required. This is especially true once the jaw bones stop growing.
We are often able to achieve lasting results with Phase 1 treatment, and in some cases, it can even lessen the impact of other problems! However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the process of total alignment.
How Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatments work
With Phase 1 treatment, we help a child’s jaw develop in a way that better accommodates all the permanent teeth. It can also improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment has a number of benefits for growing children, including an improved ability to bite and chew. It can even help them digest their food more effectively! Phase 1 treatment may also reduce the risk of tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
If your child is experiencing any of the following issues, they may respond well to Phase 1 treatment.
- Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don’t come together correctly
- Oral habits that may affect their dental development
- Speech problems
- Jaw out of proportion to the rest of the head
- Incoming adult teeth that are being obstructed by baby teeth
The goal of any orthodontic treatment is long-term stability, with the teeth staying in whatever positions they’re guided to. Once the first phase of treatment has been successfully completed, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. As we wait for these teeth to begin emerging, we will normally suspend any orthodontic treatment in order to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break. We can keep the teeth stable during this time by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
Everything begins to come together at last! Phase 2 treatment is generally initiated once all of the child’s permanent teeth have erupted. Braces or clear aligners will often be used to achieve the final alignment, and we’ll use a fixed bonded retainer or removable retainer to ensure the teeth stay in their new positions over time.
Get a custom smile for your child with Champlain Orthodontics
Every smile is unique, and what works for one child isn’t guaranteed to work for another. That’s why Champlain Orthodontics will never use a cookie-cutter approach to treating your child! Our doctors will always take into account each child’s specific needs when creating an individualized treatment plan for their smile.
We have an expert team committed to providing only the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in our community, including children. If you have a child who is around the recommended age for their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to meet you both! Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation!