As parents, we want to give our children the best of everything. That includes a beautiful smile! Here at Laidlaw Orthodontics, we often hear from parents who are wondering if their child may need orthodontic treatment, and if so, at what age they should begin. Our goal is to provide families with reliable information that will give them a clear picture of what a long-term treatment plan for their child may look like. If this is something you’ve been pondering, keep reading below to learn more about two-phase treatment and how it can give your child the best chance at a healthy smile!
The first step towards oral health
Just as regular dental visits are important throughout a child’s life, early orthodontic visits are an essential part of oral health. The first step is an early orthodontic evaluation for your child. Although there’s no minimum age for this, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an examination by around the age of seven. At this point, your child will normally have a mix of adult and baby teeth.
By looking at how these teeth are growing, an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Laidlaw will be able to determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth to grow in properly. A child’s rate of growth can have a big impact on the effectiveness of treatment, so she will also assess your child’s jaw growth rate. If any of the following issues are a concern, something called two-phase treatment may be recommended.
- 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 some extra guidance as they grow (growth modification)
Two-phase treatment is designed to be proactive rather than reactive, and it is often beneficial for young patients who are likely to need orthodontic care as they grow.
Understanding the basics of two-phase treatment
As the name implies, two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between. We will generally initiate the first phase when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This is followed by a period of rest before beginning the second phase, which will usually be once all of the adult teeth have fully emerged.
Two-phase treatment allows us to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into. We use this process to:
- create a more harmonious relationship between the teeth and jaws
- align the teeth for a straighter smile
- position the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry
We follow the normal patterns of childhood growth and development here at Laidlaw Orthodontics, which enables us to improve and correct orthodontic issues at the most opportune time. Many of these problems can be treated with relative ease in a younger child but may require more invasive treatment as they age and their jaw bones stop growing. Early treatment can achieve lasting results for many of these issues and lessen the impact of others. However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment to complete the alignment process begun in the first phase.
Phase I treatment
Phase I treatment helps a child’s jaw develop to better accommodate all the permanent teeth. It can also improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. There are several other benefits as well, including an improved ability to bite, chew, and digest food more effectively. It can also reduce the risk of tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
The goal of any orthodontic treatment is long-term stability. In other words, we want the teeth to stay in positions Dr. Laidlaw guides them to! The second phase of treatment will continue this stabilization process by moving the teeth into their final positions, but before that, there will be a period of rest while the permanent teeth emerge. While this is happening, we’ll suspend active treatment to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break.
Once we have completed the first phase of treatment, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. During this period, we’ll help keep the teeth stable by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
Phase II treatment
This is where it all begins to come together! This phase will usually begin once all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted. We’ll use braces or aligners to complete the straightening process and give your child a beautiful new smile. Once treatment is complete, we’ll provide them with a retainer to ensure that their newly straightened teeth stay that way!
Creating a custom smile for your child with Laidlaw Orthodontics
At Laidlaw Orthodontics, we know every smile is unique in its own way. What works for one child may not be a good fit for another, which is why we don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach for our patients.
Instead, Dr. Laidlaw will take your child’s specific needs and lifestyle into account when creating a personalized treatment plan for them. We’re committed to providing patients of all ages with the highest-quality care in Hillsboro and the surrounding communities.
Do you have a child who is around the recommended age for their first orthodontic visit? If so, we’d love to schedule a FREE consultation for them! Click here for an appointment request and take the first step towards a lifetime of healthy smiles for your child.