Phase One orthodontic treatment typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 9 years old while a child is still losing their baby teeth and permanent teeth are beginning to take their place. The best time to detect whether there are disturbances in jaw growth or the tooth development of a child is to have their first orthodontic check-up by the age of 7 years old.
A short phase of orthodontic treatment can be utilized at this age to enhance the growth of your child’s jaw favorably. Phase One treatment enables us to create space to guide the development and eruption of the permanent teeth into proper alignment from the start.
Does My Child Need Early Orthodontic Treatment?
It may seem as though misaligned baby teeth are harmless because your child will lose them eventually, this is far from the truth. Baby teeth play a critical role in clearing the path for the placement of permanent teeth. Issues with baby teeth can often lead to problems in other areas of your child’s overall health too. Baby teeth enable children to eat, speak and breathe comfortably. Phase one orthodontics allows us to lessen and avoid future orthodontic issues for your child by mitigating and correcting current concerns.
Your child may benefit from Phase one orthodontic treatment if they have:
- Crooked, overcrowded, or gapped teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don’t align correctly
- Incoming adult teeth that are being obstructed by baby teeth
- Difficulty with speaking correctly
- Difficulty with breathing comfortably
- A jaw that is not proportionate to the rest of the head
- Bad habits that could affect their dental development including thumb or finger sucking
Phase One Orthodontic Therapies
Most phase one treatment options allow for structural changes in your child’s jaw. Phase One treatment can also create space to guide the development and eruption of the permanent teeth into proper alignment. This first phase typically lasts from 9-12 months. While each individual situation is different, common orthodontic therapies used for Phase One orthodontics include:
- Functional appliances
- Limited phase of braces (selected teeth)
- Specialized retainers
- Expansion appliances
- Space maintainers
What Happens After Phase One Is Complete?
After Phase One is completed, there will be a one or two year “resting period.” During this time, your child’s mouth will continue to develop on its own while the remaining permanent teeth begin to emerge. During the resting period, appointments with your orthodontist may still be recommended in order to monitor the growth and development of your child’s smile. A retainer may also be recommended for wearing during the resting period to maintain the effects of Phase One.
Why Phase One May Be Necessary
It may sound like committing to two phases of orthodontic treatment will increase the time and costs associated with straightening your child’s smile, that is typically not the case. Two different phases of treatment allow us to essentially split your child’s treatment into two shorter periods rather than one long one. Early treatment can help to guide your child’s permanent teeth to emerge in a more favorable and appealing position than without Phase One treatment.
Many patients are able to save time and money by correcting issues before they arise or worsen. Phase One allows for a more simplified orthodontic treatment later in life, or in a few cases, it may even eliminate the need for Phase Two.
If your child is around the age of 7, and especially if you’re already noticing spacing problems or issues with your child’s bite or jaw, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Thomas Orthodontics today to determine if early orthodontic treatment might be beneficial.