What Is Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?

Parents are often surprised when their child’s pediatric dentist recommends a visit to the orthodontist around age 7 because the child most likely hasn’t lost even half of their baby teeth. Why would you try and straighten teeth that are just going to fall out in a year or two?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. When children are treated at such a young age, the orthodontist can identify any jaw issues that may cause long-term issues, including underbites, overbites and serious crowding.

As always, Drs. Freedman & Haas will help you decide on the best treatment for your child. Do remember that early intervention can lead to better outcomes and easier treatment when the patient is in their teens.

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Phase One – The Growth Phase

When children are between ages 7 and 11, the orthodontist will often work to adjust the jaw, tooth alignments and dental ridges so that their mouths are ready for braces around age 11 to 13.

The orthodontist may use a dental appliance such as a space maintainer or palatal expander to improve the patient’s bite. The orthodontist may also prescribe retainers and headgear to help move the teeth into their proper positions. On some occasions, braces will be used for a short period of time before the retainer is employed.

After these initial adjustments, patients are given a “resting stage” so that all their permanent teeth can come in before the orthodontist applies braces.

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Phase Two – The Alignment Phase

Once all the permanent teeth have emerged, the orthodontist will apply full braces to straighten the teeth and correct remaining alignment issues. Patients who go through Phase One treatment often have a better experience with their braces as well as a better long-term outcome. While Phase One alone may be enough for some patients, most will need to wear full braces for a year or two.

The type of braces used in Phase Two depend on the individual. Some will need traditional metal braces, while others may be able to wear invisible aligners.

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