One of the toughest things about being a parent is trying to anticipate your child’s needs in both the present and the future. If you’ve been thinking about orthodontics for your child, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we can still offer reliable information you can trust! The expert team here at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics can help you understand what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care might entail. The first step in any smile journey is a consultation with an experienced orthodontist. We offer this first visit free of charge, and while there’s no minimum age for a child’s initial evaluation, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends all children have one by about seven years old. Let’s look at what this involves and how a preventive approach can give your child’s smile the best possible start!
Why are early evaluations important?
By the time a child reaches seven years of age, they will generally possess a good mix of permanent and baby teeth. Examining their mouth around this time allows an orthodontist to diagnose and treat misalignments or a bad bite before they have the chance to cause more serious problems. This type of early intervention can also reduce the need for more invasive treatment options later in life. It’s summed up by something we call two-phase treatment, a specialized service that allows us to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to a child’s oral health. This treatment method is often recommended for younger patients who are likely to need orthodontics in their tween or teen years.
What is two-phase treatment?
In simple terms, two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times with a break or rest period in between. The first phase of treatment generally begins while the patient still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth, followed by a period of no treatment. The second phase of treatment will typically be initiated once most or all of the adult teeth have grown in. An Orthodontist can use two-phase treatment to create a more optimal environment for a child’s permanent teeth as they emerge. This works by:
- creating a more harmonious relationship between the teeth and jaws
- aligning the teeth to produce a straighter smile
- positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
When you schedule an orthodontic examination for your child in one of our state of the art offices, one of our doctors will provide a thorough examination of their teeth and jaws. They may recommend two-phase treatment if it appears that:
Your child will be prone to a particular problem we want to keep from developing in the first place (preventive treatment)
your child already has a developing problem that we want to intercept as soon as possible (interceptive treatment)
your child’s jaw bones may need some guidance as they grow (growth modification)
By following the normal patterns of childhood growth and development, our Board Certified Orthodontists at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics can improve and correct your child’s orthodontic issues at the most opportune time. Many common dental problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child may require more serious treatment as they age and their jaw bones stop growing. Initiating treatment in early childhood can achieve lasting results for many of these problems. It may even be able to lessen their impact in some cases!
How does two-phase treatment work?
Both you and your child are partners with us in their orthodontic journey. By understanding a bit about each phase and what goes on during the resting period, you’ll be able to see how two-phase treatment will work to improve your child’s long-term oral health.
Phase One treatment sets a child’s jaw up to develop in a way that better accommodates all of their permanent teeth. It can also improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Phase One orthodontics has several benefits for young patients, including an improved ability to bite, chew, and digest food more effectively. It can also reduce the risk of oral damage over time due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
Phase One treatment is the starting point for long-term stability, setting the teeth up to stay in the positions our doctors guide them to. The second phase of treatment will continue this stabilization process by moving the teeth into their final positions, but before this can begin, we need to let the permanent teeth finish emerging. Treatment is suspended during this time, giving the mouth a temporary break. During this period, we’ll help keep the teeth stable with a retainer.
We love it when a plan comes together and this phase is when it finally begins to happen! This phase is usually initiated once all of the patient’s permanent teeth have erupted and often includes the use of traditional braces or clear aligners. Once this phase of treatment is complete, we’ll provide the child with a customized retainer to ensure they enjoy their newly straightened teeth for many years to come.
Give your child’s smile the best start with Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are. Our doctors know that what works for one may not be a good fit for another, which is why they create customized treatment plans for every patient. Your child’s treatment plan will be built around their specific needs and goals, ensuring they receive the highest-quality orthodontic care and a beautiful custom smile! If your young child is ready for their first orthodontic visit, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation. This is the perfect time to start your child on the path towards a healthier and happier smile.