The phrase “timing is everything” holds true for many situations, including planning a child’s orthodontic treatment! Many common dental issues can benefit from the kind of early treatment the Coppe + Sears office is proud to provide. We agree with the American Association of Orthodontists that all children should have an orthodontic consultation by or around the age of seven – early intervention can reduce the overall need for complex orthodontic treatment at a later age.

What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that combines straightening the teeth with bony (skeletal) changes if needed. It consists of two separate times when a child receives orthodontic treatment with a break in between these phases. The first phase of treatment is generally started while the child has a mix of  primary (“baby”) teeth and permanent (“adult”) teeth. The second phase then takes place once the child has most or all of their permanent teeth. Braces and/or other orthodontic appliances may be used during the first phase of treatment.

What would qualify a child for two-phase treatment?

Once an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Sears has done a thorough examination of your child’s mouth, he’ll make a recommendation for two-phase treatment. Since the goal of this treatment is to create a better environment for your child’s permanent teeth to grow in, the first phase of treatment might be initiated to:

  • Prevent a problem from developing (preventive treatment)
  • Intercept a developing problem (interceptive treatment)
  • Guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth (growth guidance)

Orthodontic treatment and a child’s growth can actually complement each other quite well. By timing the first phase of orthodontic treatment to predictable stages of dental development,  orthodontists are able to take advantage of normal childhood growth and development. Proper timing provides the most potential for improvement and correction of any suspected early orthodontic issues. Some problems that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child may require more intensive treatment, such as corrective surgery, if treated after most growth has occurred. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results for certain problems!

As you may have guessed from the name, most patients will require a second phase of treatment, to complete the tooth and jaw alignment started during the first phase of treatment.

What are the goals of two-phase treatment?

  • A proper, working relationship between the teeth and jaws
  • Correct alignment of the teeth, for a beautiful, straight smile
  • Positioning of the teeth and jaws for more pleasant facial symmetry and profile

If you go ahead with two-phase treatment, they can help meet these goals by

  • Following their orthodontist’s recommendations and directions for maintenance and care
  • Keeping their appliance, teeth, and gums clean by maintaining an excellent dental hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing thoroughly at least twice daily and flossing as prescribed
  • Keeping scheduled appointments with the orthodontist’s office to monitor progress
  • Visiting the dentist at least every six months for a checkup and cleaning
  • Avoiding foods that may cause damage to the appliance
  • Maintaining a healthy diet

child missing front tooth

How is two-phase treatment beneficial to my child?

To understand how two-phase treatment could benefit your child, it’s important to understand what happens with each phase, as well as in the resting period in between.

Phase One

The goal of phase one treatment is to help the jaw develop so that it will be able to accommodate all of your child’s permanent teeth, and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together.

For example, children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems. An upper jaw that is growing too much, or is too narrow, can be recognized at an early age. If your child is over the age of six, and found to have this kind of jaw discrepancy, they would likely be a candidate for early orthodontic treatment. Similarly, if a child is around age eight, and has crowded front teeth, early treatment may prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.

There are a number of ways that this method of treatment can benefit patients. Physically, it can improve their ability to bite, chew, or even digest their food more effectively. It can also reduce the risk of broken teeth, due to crowded, crooked teeth or malformed jaws. Emotionally, there can be an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, something that is always important and often lacking in younger patients.  

Additionally, the changes that result from first phase treatment may contribute to longer-term stability, meaning that the teeth stay where the orthodontist moves them. The second phase of treatment will move the teeth into their final, preferred positions.

Resting Period
During this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they begin/continue to erupt. Because it’s best to allow the these permanent teeth some freedom of movement, most orthodontists will not recommend retainers or fixed appliances during this time. A successful first phase should have created room for the permanent teeth to find a clear eruption path.

Second phase

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records are made, a diagnosis established, and a customized treatment plan created for your child. Certain types of appliances will be used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase is where it all starts to come together! It typically begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and will usually requires braces on all the teeth for a time. Retainers will be worn after this phase to ensure your child keeps their beautiful new smile for a lifetime!

mom and her daughter in sunlight

Exploring two-phase treatment for your child with Coppe + Sears

Like most things in life, orthodontics is not a “one size fits all” approach. Each patient we see has a unique problem that requires a unique treatment plan. We recognize that what might seem right for one child won’t necessarily be right for another, and here at Coppe + Sears, we’re fortunate to have an orthodontist with over a decade of top-quality orthodontic experience! Dr. Sears provides meticulous care and innovative solutions to your child’s orthodontic needs. If you’re in Lexington, or the surrounding areas, and are interested in what two-phase orthodontic treatment could offer your child, get in touch with our friendly front office today to schedule a consultation! It’s our job to make your child smile!