Parents are encouraged to bring their children to the orthodontist for the first time by age seven, but not every child who is assessed needs orthodontic care right away, and some won’t even need it at all! Still, if your child does need treatment, you want to know sooner rather than later. Catching and fixing bite issues early can make the experience much less stressful for you and your child.
At these initial assessments, the orthodontists of Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics will look for signs of concern, such as teeth overcrowding, gaps, missing teeth, teeth growing in incorrectly, poor bites, and misaligned jaws, among other things. If your child does need some orthodontic work, they will likely participate in two-phase treatment.
What is two-phase treatment?
As the name suggests, two-phase treatment is orthodontic work for children that occurs at two-separate stages, with a break in between. Phase one occurs when your child still has some baby teeth, and phase two occurs a few years later when your child has most or all of their adult teeth.
Two-phase treatment can involve fixed appliances, like braces or a palatal expander, or removable ones, like Invisalign clear aligners. The type of treatment recommended depends on their bite needs, but you can be assured that Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics will explain all of the options available to you and help you and your child pick the best one.
How can two-phase treatment benefit my child?
Two-phase treatment can help your child by providing preventative treatment (to prevent a problem from developing), interceptive treatment (to thwart an already developing issue), and developmental guidance (giving the jaw and teeth direction and assistance as your child grows).
On the surface, this can seem purely cosmetic, but alignment complications can negatively impact your child’s overall oral health.
Have you ever seen a child take a nasty tumble that hardly bothered them but would have sent you to the emergency room? That’s because children’s bones (including their jaw) are still developing—meaning they are still, metaphorically, “soft and squishy”—making them perfect candidates for orthodontic work.
Correcting a child’s still-developing bones is more straightforward than an adult’s fully-developed bones. Whereas a child could undergo simple treatment, such as braces, an adult could need complex treatments like pulling teeth, cosmetic surgery, corrective jaw surgery, or other invasive procedures for the same problem!
As children grow into adults, orthodontic care becomes more complicated. Take Susan and her daughter Brittney, for example. Susan has always had an issue with an overbite, and now Brittney has developed one, too. After learning that her daughter could use braces and elastic bands to adjust her jaw, Susan wanted to undergo treatment too. However, Susan won’t be able to use only braces to fix her jaw placement; she will need jaw surgery and braces! Because Susan’s jaw has already “settled” into this position and her symptoms have worsened over time, she will need more extensive work to make corrections. If Brittney does not get treatment now, she will likely be in the same position as her mother when she gets older.
Less Likely To Damage Teeth
There are two ways that two-phase treatment with Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics can help protect your child’s teeth. The first is removing the possibility of friction and grinding due to malocclusion (like overcrowding), which can strip the enamel and leave your child vulnerable to tooth decay and sensitivity. Two-phase treatment drastically reduces this by fixing jaw placement, spacing out overcrowded teeth, and creating space for new teeth to grow in.
The second way is by aligning teeth that stick out farther than the others. Protruding teeth could have grown in that way naturally or been caused by thumb sucking. These teeth are more likely to become chipped, broken, or experience trauma. Children with protruding teeth can experience difficulty communicating or eating, among other things.
Easier Oral Hygiene Routine
A child with improper bite and teeth alignment is at risk of oral hygiene quickly becoming frustrating. If their routine creates negative feelings, they will be less motivated to develop healthy, consistent habits. An unclean mouth from poor oral hygiene could lead to complex, expensive, and uncomfortable problems later in life.
Jaw Alignment Improvement
A person’s jaw functionality is linked to many aspects of their life, such as chewing, communication, digestive health, biting, and more.
Chewing food small enough is crucial to the digestive process and system, and issues could lead to choking, nutrient or vitamin deficiency, heartburn, and more. If your child is currently having difficulty or is at risk of having difficulty chewing or biting, eating can quickly become an unpleasant experience for them. If they associate eating with negative emotions, it can be challenging for you to help them form a healthy relationship with food.
Incorrect jaw alignment can also affect tongue posture, which could cause mouth breathing, sleep apnea, and other breathing issues. Mouth breathing can lead to dry mouth, creating oral health issues. Sleep disorders can leave your child feeling constantly exhausted, which can affect their daily life, such as decreased academic performance, irritability, and mood swings.
Tongue posture and jaw location could make talking an unpleasant, painful experience. Improper jaw alignment also puts abnormal stress and wear on the jaw. Relieving this tension can prevent headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, migraines, and neck pain.
Learn more about two-phase treatment by visiting us at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics!
Schedule a free consultation with the fantastic team at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics to find out how two-phase treatment can personally benefit your child. Contact one of our conveniently located offices to begin your child’s journey to a beautiful, healthy smile!
Don’t delay; call today!