Here at Smile Studio, we get a lot of patients in the Zachary area wondering when’s the best time for their kids to get started on their orthodontic journey. Many of them are surprised when we tell them that they should bring the kiddos in to see Dr. Carter and Dr. White by around age seven! While most kids won’t need orthodontic intervention until they get a little older, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child see a trained orthodontist by this age since their teeth and jaws have started to develop into their adult configurations, but aren’t so far developed that they can’t benefit from early intervention if necessary. We’ve asked Dr. White to review the benefits of two-phase treatment, so read on to learn more!
Why Age Seven?
The American Association of Orthodontists, Dr. Carter and Dr. White recommend that kids see their orthodontist by age seven. But what’s so special about that age?
It all comes down to development. Before age seven, children don’t really have much of their adult tooth and jaw configuration going on, so orthodontists can’t get a clear picture of any orthodontic issues they may have. However, much older than age seven, those same tooth and bite problems have already started to cement themselves, meaning they’ll require much more work to correct once they’re old enough for a primary course of care.
So age seven is the perfect sweet spot! Orthodontists can see how different tooth and jaw problems might be beginning to arise in your child’s smile and bite, but it’s still early enough for some preventative care that will make things much smoother when it comes time for braces or Invisalign.
Basically, age seven is the goldilocks period for early orthodontic care!
What Does Two-Phase Treatment Take Care Of?
Two-phase treatment works to correct all of the different orthodontic issues that crop up later in life. However, early intervention can significantly reduce the difficulty of phase two, or primary care, in kids with specific developmental issues related to tooth and jaw growth.
Early Interceptive Treatment – Phase 1
During Phase I, early interceptive treatment is the perfect option if Dr. Carter and Dr. White spot moderate or severe orthodontic problems that they believe will respond well to early treatment are spotted. This is only the case for a smaller number of kids, around ten to fifteen percent, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
During Phase One, Dr. Carter and Dr. White will ensure enough room for the growth of your child’s permanent teeth, reducing the risk of overcrowding, an issue that can cause many problems down the line. Phase One also treats bite growth and your child’s jaw. That means issues like crossbite and underbite.
If your child’s upper or lower jaw isn’t growing correctly, early orthodontic treatment can help. It can prevent future dental problems like injuries, the need for tooth removal, or jaw surgery. If left untreated, these issues may require braces later in life. Phase 1 treatment usually takes 9-18 months. Afterward, Dr. Carter or Dr. White will prescribe a retainer, checked every four to six months, until the remaining teeth come in.
The orthodontists might use any of the following during phase I treatment:
- Specialized retainers
- A limited phase of braces (selected teeth)
- Space maintainers
- Functional appliances
- Expansion appliances
Phase one is all about taking care of issues such as:
- Jaw discrepancies: Early intervention can help manage jaw growth problems, such as an underdeveloped or overdeveloped upper or lower jaw.
- Crossbites: Phase 1 treatment may be employed to address crossbites, where the upper and lower teeth do not meet correctly.
- Crowding: Early treatment can alleviate severe crowding issues and create more space for the proper eruption of permanent teeth.
- Bad Habits: Orthodontic appliances are great for correcting harmful oral habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which can impact dental development.
Braces, Invisalign, and More – Phase 2
Phase two is when the orthodontists will work to ensure that each tooth is placed correctly in the mouth and is in equilibrium with the other teeth, the jaws, lips, cheeks, and tongues. This phase is when Dr. Carter or Dr. White makes permanent adjustments to give your child a long-lasting, healthy smile.
Phase two is when the more familiar aspects of orthodontic care come into play. That means braces or Invisalign aligners on both upper and lower sets of teeth. Phase two takes advantage of the planning and records made during the first treatment phase, which means your child has finished their orthodontic treatment!
Smile Studio Has Your Back, Every Step of the Way
At Smile Studio, we’re all about taking patients through each step of their orthodontic journey – no matter what age! Whether you need treatment for the kiddos, your teen, or yourself, we’ve got you covered! At Smile Studio, our patients are more than a number – you’re family! Call us today at (225) 570-8030, or just fill out this online form, and Dr. Carter, Dr. White and the team can get started crafting the smile of a lifetime. We’ll see you soon!