Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a process implemented when a child has dentofacial problems that will either cause or exacerbate misaligned teeth. The technique was developed as orthodontists realized that some conditions, like crowding or an excessively small jaw, are easier to treat while the child’s facial bones are still growing. For example, an orthodontist could prescribe a palatal expander for a child with an abnormally small palate; an adult with the same problem would need to undergo surgery.
This type of treatment can reduce the need to remove teeth. In addition, by taking care of many of the patient’s problems during the first phase, it can also shorten the length of the second phase, depending on the situation.
What Does Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment Involve?
Most authorities recommend that a child start visiting the orthodontist by the time they are seven years old. By that age, their adult teeth will be starting to grow in and the orthodontist will be able to spot potential problems, many of which might get worse as the child gets older.
If the orthodontist spots such a problem, they will likely recommend two-phase orthodontic treatment to correct it. The first phase would take care of any jaw abnormalities, bite problems or bad habits. The exact procedures used during the first phase would depend on the problem. There will then be a rest period in between the two phases while the remaining adult teeth emerge. The orthodontist will carefully monitor the patient during the rest period.
The second phase, which starts after all of the adult teeth (except the wisdom teeth) have grown in, would correct any remaining problems with tooth alignment. While the first phase can involve several different types of procedures and/or appliances, the second phase typically involves braces at our office in Oak Lawn or Frankfort.
What Conditions Can Be Treated with Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?
There are many problems that might require this form of treatment. Examples include:
- Thumb-sucking past the age of three
- An abnormally narrow palate
- Jaw abnormalities
- Missing teeth
- Premature loss of baby teeth
- Open bites
What is an Open Bite?
An open bite is an abnormality in which the front teeth don’t meet when the mouth is closed. It can be caused by jaw abnormalities or bad habits like prolonged thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting. If an open bite isn’t corrected, it can lead to problems with chewing and premature wear on the back teeth. It has also been linked to temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) disorders.
In some cases, the open bite will go away on its own. This is especially likely to happen if the child has an open bite simply because they have a mix of baby and adult teeth. In most cases, the child will need two-phase orthodontic treatment. They will need help breaking bad habits, or they will need to have their jaw worked on. In the latter case, the orthodontist may recommend one of several appliances to guide their jaw growth and bring their teeth into a normal position during the first phase.
Getting the Best Treatment for Your Child
As a parent, you want your child to have the best quality of life possible. Having a healthy set of teeth and a healthy jaw is a big part of this. Schedule an appointment at Petty, Bielik and Burke Orthodontics in Frankfort or Oak Lawn to see if two-phase orthodontic treatment is right for your child. Contact us today to book a consultation.