The question of timing comes up a lot in parenting, and orthodontics is no exception. When you’re trying to determine if, when, and what kind of treatment your child may need, it can become a little overwhelming. There’s a wealth of information available, both online and offline, and it can be stressful trying to take it all in. Here at Buttram Orthodontics, we’re here to help understand what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care could look like. Our team is committed to providing parents with clear, concise, and trusted information from an expert source!
When it comes to ensuring a healthy, aligned smile for your child, the first step should be an orthodontic evaluation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Buttram. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic consultation by around the age of seven. This gives us the chance to find, diagnose, and treat many common dental issues before they can cause more serious problems.
This kind of early intervention can also reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment at a later age, and can be summed up by the process of two-phase treatment. Two-phase treatment is a specialized service orthodontists offer that is designed to be proactive rather than reactive. It is often recommended for younger patients that we anticipate will need orthodontics as they grow. To find out more about this treatment process, and how it could benefit your child’s oral health, keep reading!
Understanding two-phase orthodontic treatment
As its name implies, two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between. We will generally initiate the first phase of treatment when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This will be followed by a period of rest before the second phase begins, usually once most or all adult teeth are present. Although braces or other orthodontic appliances may sometimes be used during the first phase, it’s much more common for these to be implemented in the second phase of treatment. This will be dependant on the specifics of each individual case.
Two-phase treatment is often recommended in order to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into, giving them the best start for a healthy, attractive smile that is also fully functional. This will happen by:
- creating a more optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws
- aligning the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
During your child’s initial orthodontic examination, Dr. Buttram will thoroughly inspect your child’s teeth and jaws. He may recommend two-phase treatment if it appears that:
- he or she will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
- he or she already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- your child’s jaw bones may need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)
By following the patterns of normal childhood growth and development, we have the chance to improve and correct orthodontic issues at an opportune time. There are many common dental problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child that would likely require more invasive treatment as they age and their jawbones stop growing. Early treatment can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues, and may be able to lessen the impact of others. That being said, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the alignment process we begin with the first phase.
How two-phase treatment works
Knowing a bit more about each phase and what goes on during the resting period can help you understand how the whole process works together to improve your child’s overall oral health.
Phase one treatment is generally initiated to 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 several benefits. This includes an improved ability to bite, chew, and digest food more effectively, as well as a reduced risk for tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
Treatment in this phase contributes to longer-term stability, meaning that the teeth will stay in whatever position Dr. Buttram guides them to. The second phase of treatment continues this stabilization by moving the teeth into their final optimal positions, but before we can begin this stage, there will be a period of time where the permanent teeth are emerging. While this is occurring, it’s important to suspend any orthodontic treatment in order to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break.
Once the first phase of treatment has been completed successfully, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. Any teeth that have been moved will be further stabilized by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer during the resting period.
The is where everything starts to come together! We will normally initiate this phase once all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted. Successful treatment in phase two will often require the use of braces or clear aligner therapy. Once treatment is complete, fixed bonded retainers are used to ensure that their newly straightened teeth stay where they are supposed to!
Buttram Orthodontics create custom smiles
All smiles are not created equally, and what works for one child won’t always work for one another. Buttram Orthodontics doesn’t believe in “one size fits all” orthodontic treatment! Our talented team is committed to providing patients with customized treatment plans based on their own unique needs and goals. We offer only the highest-quality, individualized orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Panama City and the surrounding communities! Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Buttram if you have a child who is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation. There’s never been a better time to start working towards your child’s very best smile!