What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a very specialized process that involves both tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. Phase I treatment usually takes place between ages 7-10. When a child is still growing, the orthodontist can use a number of different techniques and appliances to reduce crowding, close spaces, and guide the growth of the upper and lower jaws into the ideal positions. Phase II treatment is usually full upper and lower braces, and focuses on aligning the teeth into the desired positions to produce a healthy, functional, and attractive result.
What if I put off treatment?
Although orthodontics can be started at any age, early treatment is very effective because your orthodontist can work in conjunction with the natural growth of your child’s teeth and jaws. The goals of Phase I treatment are to (1) adjust the jaw size to accommodate all the permanent teeth and (2) to ensure the upper and lower jaws fit together properly. Your orthodontist can tell you after an examination whether your child’s jaws are growing at the desired rate.
Planning now can save your smile later
Because they are growing rapidly, orthodontic appliances are especially effective for young children. Early intervention often eliminates the need for extractions or other surgical procedures, and ensures a stable, beautiful smile.
The steps involved in multiple phase treatment
Before treatment is started, your orthodontist will take what is called “diagnostic records,” which includes photographs, two x-rays, and study model impressions. Using these tools, the doctor will come up with a specialized treatment plan that includes the type of appliances needed, the estimated treatment duration, and the frequency of visits.
The next step is the active portion of Phase I treatment, and starts with inserting all the necessary appliances. Patients are seen every 6-8 weeks for checkups/adjustments. This portion of treatment usually lasts from 8-12 months.
Interim period between Phase I and Phase II
After the desired results are achieved in the active portion of Phase I, there is usually a resting period before Phase II where the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. After all the permanent teeth are in, Phase II (full upper and lower braces) is started, and usually lasts from 18-24 months. Once all of the teeth are ideally positioned and stable, the braces are removed and we make a custom retainer to keep the teeth from shifting.