Most parents are already aware of how important regular dental care and check-ups are when it comes to maintaining a child’s healthy smile. However, many are surprised to learn about the recommendation from the American Association of Orthodontists which states that all children should have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re about 7 years of age.
If you find this recommendation confusing, you’re not alone! You may be wondering why any child that young needs to see an orthodontist, especially given how many kids that age will still have developing mouths with a number of baby teeth present. But that turns out to be the point! Early evaluations like these are an essential part of the proactive approach we take to treatment here at Mack Orthodontics! While they aren’t always followed up with early treatment, they do give us the opportunity to monitor a child’s dental development and growth patterns over the years.
With that being said, there will still be certain cases where intervention is required at a young age in order to obtain the most optimal results for the child. Our expert team is dedicated to providing families with trusted information on what a long-term orthodontic plan might look like for their child, and two-phase treatment can be an essential part of that. To learn more about how this method can give young patients the best chance at a healthy smile that’s fully functioning, keep reading below!
Early orthodontic evaluations with Mack Orthodontics
As we briefly noted above, an early evaluation gives us the opportunity to find, diagnose, and treat a number of common orthodontic issues before they have the chance to become more serious. This can also reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment later on in life.
Every child’s orthodontic journey will begin with an initial evaluation, and here at Mack Orthodontics, we’re pleased to provide it free of charge! During this consultation, Dr. Mack will examine the primary and permanent teeth, and check other developmental markers to gain some insight into their alignment. This exam will also help him determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for all the permanent teeth to grow in comfortably.
What is two-phase treatment?
If Dr. Mack determines your child would benefit from early orthodontic care, he may recommend using two phases of treatment that are designed to be proactive rather than reactive. This method is referred to as two-phase treatment, which simply means a child will receive orthodontic treatment in two different stages, with a period of rest in between.
We’ll usually initiate the first phase when the child still has a good mix of primary and permanent teeth. We’ll follow this up with a period of no treatment, then begin the second phase after most or all of the adult teeth have emerged.
Two-phase treatment allows us to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into, giving them a great start on a smile that looks and feels amazing! The two distinct phases of treatment help us build an optimal oral 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
- Who is a good candidate for two-phase treatment?
- When you schedule your child’s first visit with Dr. Mack, he will perform a thorough oral examination, inspecting their mouth, teeth, and jaws. If any of the following issues are present and considered 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)
At Mack Orthodontics, our team follows the normal patterns of a child’s growth and development. This gives Dr. Mack the best chance to improve and correct orthodontic issues at the most opportune time. Many common problems that can be easily treated in a growing child become more complex to correct as they get older and the jaw bones stop growing.
Phase 1 treatment
Phase 1 treatment helps a child’s jaw develop in a way that better accommodates all the permanent teeth, and can also improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This has a number of benefits for growing children, from an improved ability to bite and chew to more efficient digestion. Phase 1 treatment may also reduce the risk of tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.
Children experiencing any of the following issues may be good candidates for Phase 1 treatment.
- Crooked or crowded
- Teeth with a noticeable gap
- 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 permanent teeth that are being obstructed by baby teeth
Phase 1 treatment often provides lasting results. In certain cases, it can even lessen the impact of other problems. However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the full process of alignment.
The rest period
Once the first phase of treatment has been successfully completed, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. At this point, we will normally stop any active orthodontic treatment to give the teeth and jaws a break while the adult teeth make their way through the gums. We can keep the teeth stable during this rest period by using a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.
Phase 2 treatment
We’ll normally initiate Phase 2 treatment once all the permanent teeth have erupted. This is when all your child’s treatment begins to come together! Braces or clear aligners are often used to achieve the alignment we want, and once this phase is complete, we’ll use a fixed or removable retainer to ensure long-lasting results. Retainers are what keep the teeth in their new and improved positions over time.
Give your child a smile worth sharing with Mack Orthodontics
At Mack Orthodontics, we recognize that every smile is unique, and what works for one child will not necessarily work for another. That’s why our team is committed to creating individualized treatment plans for every patient we see. These plans are built around the specific needs and goals of that patient to provide the best possible outcome.
If you have a child who’s ready for their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how everything is progressing! Get in touch with our Burlington office today to schedule a FREE consultation.