Here at Hunter Family Orthodontics, it’s our goal to provide parents with reliable, expert information on what a long-term plan for their child might look like. If you’ve been trying to determine if, and when, your child may need orthodontic treatment, we’re here to help! With clear, concise information from an experienced orthodontic source like Dr. Hunter, you’ll have the tools you need to make the best choice for your child’s smile. Keep reading below to learn more about phase 1 & phase 2 treatment!
Taking the first step towards a healthier smile
The first step in any orthodontic journey is an orthodontic evaluation. We’re proud to provide an initial consultation at no charge for families in the Woodlands and surrounding communities! Although there’s no minimum age for a child to have their first orthodontic evaluation, the American Association of Orthodontists does recommend that all children have an examination by around the age of seven. By this time, most children will usually have a mix of permanent and baby teeth. An evaluation at this stage will give our team the chance to find, diagnose, and treat a number of common dental issues before they become more serious.
Early intervention like these orthodontic evaluations can also help to reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment later on. If a young child is in need of orthodontic care, we may choose to use two phases of treatment that are designed to be proactive rather than reactive.
Understanding Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment
Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment is sometimes referred to as two-phase treatment. It involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, usually with a break in between. In most cases, the first phase of treatment will be initiated when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This is followed by a period of rest before the second phase begins, which will generally be once most or all of the adult teeth have emerged.
The approach used with two-phase treatment allows us to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into. This gives them the best start for a healthy smile that functions exactly the way it should! The two phases of treatment help us promote a more optimal environment by:
- creating a more harmonious relationship between the teeth and jaws
- aligning the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
- positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
When your child visits Dr. Hunter for the first time, he will complete a thorough oral examination, inspecting the mouth, teeth, and jaws. If any of the following are a concern, he 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 now want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- Your child’s jaw bones appear to need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)
Dr. Hunter follows the normal patterns of childhood growth and development to ensure the best smile and oral health. Doing so gives him the best chance to improve and correct orthodontic issues at the most opportune time! Many common dental problems can be treated relatively easily in a growing child, but may require more invasive treatment as they age, especially once their jaw bones stop growing.
Phase 1 treatment is often able to achieve lasting results for many of these kinds of issues. In some cases, it can even lessen the impact of other problems. However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to fully complete the process of alignment.
How Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatments work
To better understand how the whole treatment process works to improve your child’s smile, it helps to know a bit about the basics of each phase.
Phase one treatment can help a child’s jaw develop to better accommodate all the permanent teeth. It also improves the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment can have a number of benefits for a growing child, including an improved ability to bite, chew, and digest their food more effectively. Furthermore, it can reduce the risk of tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws. If a child is experiencing any of the following issues, they 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
- Jaw out of proportion to the rest of the head
- Incoming adult teeth are being obstructed by baby teeth
The goal of any orthodontic treatment is long-term stability. We want the teeth to stay in whatever position Dr. Hunter guides them to! Once we have successfully completed the first phase of treatment, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. As we wait for these teeth to begin emerging, we will suspend orthodontic treatment in order to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break. During this period, we’ll keep the teeth stable by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
This is the stage where everything begins to come together! We will normally initiate Phase 2 treatment once all your child’s permanent teeth have erupted. Braces or clear aligners will often be part of the treatment plan. Once treatment is complete, we’ll generally use a fixed bonded retainer or removable retainer to ensure that the teeth stay in their newly straightened positions long-term.
Create a customized smile for your child with Hunter Family Orthodontics
Here at Hunter Family Orthodontics, we don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach to treatment. Every smile is unique, and what works for one child isn’t guaranteed to work for another. Dr. Hunter will take into account your child’s specific needs when creating an individualized treatment plans for their smile.
Our expert team is committed to providing the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in The Woodlands and the surrounding areas. If you have a child who is around the recommended age for their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to schedule a complimentary consultation for them! You can click here to schedule their FREE exam, or give our office a call at 281-713-4892.