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Two-phase orthodontic treatment consists of:
The different phases of orthodontic treatment are described in detail below.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic screening around age 7. Usually the first permanent molars and permanent incisors have come in by that time. Orthodontic treatment and braces are not usually started at this age unless severe problems exist which will adversely affect the way the teeth are growing. Also, an upper and lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognized at this age. If children are found to have this jaw discrepancy, it is best to treat it sooner rather than later.
Early (phase I) treatment is only recommended in about 5-10% of the patients we evaluate. In most cases, growth and development is seen as normal and no intervention is required.
The major advantage of a two-phase treatment is to allow the permanent teeth to erupt into their best natural position and restore the normal developmental relationships of the teeth. The eruption of each tooth is affected by those around it, so proper positioning of the teeth during early development serves as the foundation for normal growth. In such cases that possess the problems listed above, treating them early can help avoid the development of more serious dental problems over time. Many of these orthodontic problems can be treated much more easily by working with the growth that takes place in younger children. Early treatment (phase I) often reduces the difficulty of comprehensive treatment (phase II) and helps make optimal treatment outcomes more achievable.
In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment! Early treatment provides a good foundation for a smile that will last a lifetime.
The disadvantage of not doing Phase I when recommended is facing the possibility of a compromised result that may not be stable. The longer some problems go unrecognized, the harder they are to treat. Many of these orthodontic problems can be treated much more easily by working with the growth that takes place in younger children. Some developmental problems, like functional shifts of the jaw, open bite tendencies, and under-bites, actually have a strong negative impact on facial growth. Early intervention for these developmental problems can have a significant impact on your child’s facial development and appearance. Other disadvantages of waiting for complete eruption of permanent teeth and having only one phase of treatment are:
A successful first phase improves the appearance of the teeth and creates an unobstructed path for all of the teeth to erupt into the mouth. A normal developmental relationship is achieved, and usually only some of the permanent teeth have grown into position. In other words, some baby teeth may still need to fall out, and it is necessary to wait until all of the permanent teeth have erupted into position before the bite and final alignment of the teeth can be evaluated. This is called the maintenance phase.
Retainers are sometimes recommended to preserve the relationship achieved during the first phase of treatment, but these are then discontinued to allow the loss of the baby teeth and eruption of the permanent teeth. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement while final eruption of the permanent teeth occurs. In some instances, phase II may not be necessary if all the permanent teeth erupt properly. During the maintenance phase, periodic recall appointments are required to monitor growth and the eruption of the permanent teeth.
The final alignment of the teeth and bite correction are the goals of the second phase of treatment. We strive to create harmony between the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth.
What does this mean for you? Your teeth are more likely to remain healthy and straight throughout your life if you properly correct the way the teeth fit together and function.