Did you know that the ideal age for a child to see an orthodontist for an evaluation is around 7-years old? It’s true! It may seem young, but early appointments help us so much. From this early exam, Dr. Hood-Olson can see how your child’s permanent teeth are coming in and look at the ways they will change as they grow. This allows us to plan the ideal time to begin orthodontic treatment. Let’s take a closer look at early, or phased, treatment and if it might be right for your child.
What is Phased Treatment?
Phased treatment is treatment that happens in different phases and at different times or ages. The reason it’s important to bring a kid in by age 7 is that the mouth, teeth, and jaws are still changing. By evaluating them early, we can determine if early orthodontic intervention may help to lessen the severity of orthodontic needs in the future. You may wonder why all their orthodontic needs can’t be addressed at once, and it’s because they’re still growing. By executing treatment in phases, we’re able to see how a child’s teeth and mouth will develop as they age. Once they have all of their permanent teeth, more permanent treatment solutions can be started.
What is Phase 1?
In general, phase 1 is best for younger children. This could be partial braces, an orthodontic appliance, or a retainer. The benefit of phase 1 is to move the teeth and/or jaw into ideal placement that will allow for the permanent teeth to erupt in a healthy way. Phase 1 can lessen tooth crowding or improper placement of teeth that will help prevent the need for more complicated treatment in the future.
What is a Resting Period?
After phase 1 is completed, a child will enter what we call the resting period. During this time, no orthodontic treatment will happen. This period allows for growth, the loss of any baby teeth, and eruption of all permanent teeth. While no orthodontic appliances are used during the resting period, we may ask that your child come in for periodic appointments so that we can observe and keep track of their growth.
What is Phase 2?
Phase 2 is the final stage of treatment. Most often, this means that a patient’s treatment plan will call for traditional braces or clear aligners. Phase 2 usually happens during adolescence and is most likely what you think of when you picture orthodontic treatment. During this phase, your child will need to come in for appointments to have their braces adjusted. Or, if they are wearing aligner trays (like Invisalign), they will be required to change trays at home. Both of these methods will gently guide the teeth into their ideal placement, resulting in a beautiful smile.
What if My Child Doesn’t Need Phased Treatment?
Many children won’t need to undergo phased treatment. If there are no concerns about potential problems down the road, a child will be what we call an observation patient. This means that we will periodically want to do checkups to monitor growth and make sure no new issues pop up. Typically, children who don’t need phased treatment will wait till all of their permanent teeth have come in to begin treatment and only need one period of orthodontic appliances.
When your child is in our exam chair, they are our number one priority. We create a fully customized orthodontic plan to meet the specific needs of your child. Our team can help you understand the best treatment plan and if phased treatment is right for your child.