As a parent, you only want the best for your child. That includes a healthy smile that feels as good as it looks! Here at Parks, Schmit, and Fuller Orthodontics, we want to help your child achieve improved oral health, a beautiful smile, and a perfect bite. We have many ways to accomplish this, including two-phase treatment. This early intervention option encourages gradual changes to a child’s teeth that align with their different growth phases, helping to reduce the need for more invasive treatment later on. Keep reading to learn the basics and benefits of two-phase treatment!
Most children we see in early childhood won’t need immediate intervention. Our doctors are very conservative about treatment at this age, basing their decisions on the most current research. Scheduling regular orthodontic evaluations as your child grows allows us to monitor their oral health and anticipate any potential problems. Catching these issues as they develop means we can choose the best method for correcting them before they get worse and require more invasive treatment.
Put simply, two-phase treatment gives our expert team of orthodontists the chance to diagnose and treat any problems that would benefit from early intervention. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly it is and how it can give your child the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Who is considered a good candidate for two-phase treatment?
The first step in any child’s smile journey is the evaluation mentioned above. This initial examination is complimentary and includes a panoramic radiograph. We provide this consultation at no charge! Usually, we will make some digital photographs and X-rays of your child’s teeth and supporting bone structure during this important visit. This gives our doctors a better idea of what’s happening beneath the surface. Your child will also be given a brief but comprehensive oral examination. The findings of this exam, along with the images we’ve collected, will determine if immediate treatment is indicated.
By the time your child is ready for his/her first orthodontic visit, he/she will have a good mix of permanent and baby teeth, including their adult first molars. These are developmental markers that give our doctors some insight into the basic alignment of the child’s teeth. By looking at how these teeth are growing, we can determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for the permanent teeth to emerge.
Your child’s jaw growth rate will also be assessed since this may have a big impact on how effective treatment is. If any of the following issues are a concern, we may recommend two-phase treatment:
- your child shows signs of a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
- your child already has a developing problem that we want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- your child’s jawbones appear to need additional guidance as they grow (growth modification)
By treating a child in two stages, we’re often able to utilize noninvasive devices first to help promote the healthy growth of the jawbone before fitting them for braces or aligners. Here’s a quick breakdown of each phase!
In this first stage of treatment, Dr. Parks, Schmit, Fuller, or Wittchow will determine the best method of supporting proper jaw growth and preparing the teeth and jaw for the appliance we’ll use later. The focus in Phase I is ensuring the upper and lower jaws are growing in proper alignment. We’ll also be working to eliminate issues that can damage a child’s bite, spacing, or dental health. This includes poor oral habits like extended thumb sucking or pacifier use. A child who has any of the following issues may respond well to Phase 1 treatment.
- Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don’t come together correctly
- Oral habits that may affect their dental development
- Speech problems
- A jaw that is out of proportion to the rest of the head
- Emerging permanent teeth that are being obstructed by the primary teeth
Our doctors may use tried-and-true dental appliances like palatal expanders, space maintainers, and/or headgear during Phase I treatment. You can trust that the treatment plan created for your child will be based on his or her own specific needs and goals.
Our main goal with any orthodontic treatment is long-term stability. In other words, we want the teeth to remain in whatever positions we’ve guided them to! The first phase of treatment leaves the remaining permanent teeth with a clear path to erupt. As we wait for these teeth to begin emerging, we will typically suspend treatment for a while to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break. We can keep the teeth stable during this time by using either a space maintainer or a removable retainer.
Phase II treatment is normally initiated once your child’s permanent teeth have completely grown in. In this stage, the focus is on bringing the teeth into the proper alignment. To accomplish this, we’ll often place braces on the upper and lower teeth to gradually shift them into the desired positions. We can use traditional metal or clear braces to do this; in many cases, we may be able to achieve the same results with clear aligners. After the active phases of treatment are complete, we will provide your child with removable retainers. This helps ensure the teeth remain beautifully aligned.
What are the benefits of two-phase treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment can be an excellent way to gently correct your child’s bite and spacing issues as they grow. Our expert orthodontists are also able to track their growth patterns throughout to prevent overcorrection and other potential complications. This allows for minute adjustments throughout the process, ensuring highly personalized results. Early intervention can also help reduce the need for more invasive corrective procedures later in life.
Your child’s best smile starts with Parks, Schmit, and Fuller Orthodontics
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are! Our customized approach offers world-class care in a friendly environment for the best results. If you have a child ready for their first orthodontic visit, get in touch today to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our talented orthodontists! With four conveniently located offices in Cedar Rapids and Marion, it’s never been easier to take the first step towards a happier and healthier smile for your child.