Most orthodontic problems can be addressed and successfully completed when the patient has or is close to having all of their permanent teeth. This "Full Phase Treatment" is one phase of treatment that takes an average of 18-24 months. However, some problems that need orthodontic treatment can become obvious when a child is young and long before a child has all of their permanent teeth. Depending on the problem, a two-phase treatment may be recommended.
Two-phase treatment involves using separate time periods of orthodontic treatment: one during childhood (Phase 1) and one during adolescence (Phase II). This approach allows us to treat underlying bone structure and eruption issues during childhood, when the bones of the mouth and the jaws are still growing and malleable. Dr. Turner will always tell you if phase I treatment is truly needed. We do not recommend moving baby teeth just for the sake of appearance unless the patient or parent feels the child is experiencing psychosocial issues or has specific concerns. In that case, we will gladly help guide you and your child to make the best treatment decision with this in mind. Otherwise, there are many different orthodontic issues that will require early intervention to ensure your child's bite and smile will be healthy in the future.
Two Phase Orthodontic Treatment can be used to treat the following:
- Reduce crowding and decrease the need to pull permanent teeth in the future
- Assist in proper eruption of permanent teeth
- Reduce the chance that your child will need jaw surgery once they are fully grown. There are some problems that can be treated quite well in a growing child but may require corrective surgery if treatment occurs after growth ends. One of the most common examples of this is called a Class III malocclusion or "underbite". This issue must be addressed before age 10 and orthodontic treatment will be used to modify the growth of the upper and lower jaw.
- Habit control such as finger and thumb sucking
- Increase the width of the upper jaw due to crossbites
- Reduce trauma risk in children whose front teeth flare out by tucking them in with phase I braces, and therefore reducing the risk of those teeth being broken or knocked out.
- Improve psychosocial issues that a child may experience by misalignment of their teeth
Phase I Childhood Orthodontic Treatment
Phase I treatment normally takes place somewhere between the ages of 7 to 12. Treatment time can range from 6-12 months. At this age, the bones of the mouth, jaws and skull have not finished forming. In fact, the left and right halves of the upper jaw have not fused together yet: they are two separate bones at this age.
This means we can use specialized orthodontic appliances to gently change and redirect the growth and development of the jaws. This lets us influence jaw growth to improve jaw positioning, promote healthy facial bone alignment, and even create more room in the mouth to accommodate the teeth. While Phase I treatment isn't necessary for most patients, for some, it lets us use orthodontic appliances to make changes that would be much more difficult or impossible to accomplish later in life.
After phase I treatment, Turner Orthodontics will continue to monitor your child's growth and eruption until the appropriate time to begin Phase II treatment. It's important that patients and parents understand Phase I treatment does not treat full alignment and bite issues and that Phase II treatment will likely be needed in the future.
Phase 2 Adolescent Orthodontic Treatment
After creating a healthy foundation for your child' smile in Phase I, Phase II is where we realign the permanent teeth to create a beautiful, healthy smile. This phase normally starts around ages 12-14 and treatment time can range anywhere from 12-36 months depending on the issue. We use braces or Invisalign clear aligners to gradually shift the position of the teeth, creating a healthier alignment and a more beautiful smile. Two-phase treatment comes with a number of advantages for patients that need it. Here are a few of the benefits of Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment.
- With Two-Phase treatment, we rarely need to extract permanent teeth.
- Two-Phase Treatment allows us to use a more gentle and convenient treatment to achieve a healthy smile. Many issues that would require orthognathic (jaw) surgery during adolescence or adulthood can be treated with a simple orthodontic appliance during childhood.
- Two-Phase Treatment allows us to use even more convenient treatments like Invisalign during adolescence, making the whole process easier.
Feel free to give us a call to schedule your complimentary consultation. Dr. Turner will let you know if your child needs early orthodontic intervention or if he feels it is best to wait and start treatment during adolescence. In that case, we will continue to monitor your child's growth and eruption at no cost until we feel treatment is appropriate.