The American Academy of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that all children have their first orthodontic appointment by age 7. But did you know that some children might begin their treatment then, also? Modern orthodontic treatment begins earlier for specific cases where the orthodontist knows that two phases could be better than one.
What is Two-Phase Orthodontics?
Two-phase orthodontics is a treatment plan that has two distinct starts and stops. The first phase begins when a child still has baby teeth. The second phase happens months or years later when the patient has either a few remaining baby teeth or all of their permanent teeth. Between the two phases is a break when the patient does not wear braces, what the AAO calls a “resting period.”[i]
Who Benefits from Two-Phase Orthodontics?
It is important to note that most orthodontic problems only need one phase of treatment. Per the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, 90 percent of orthodontic cases need only one phase of treatment to correct the issues in the patient’s mouth. [ii]
However, for that remaining 10 percent, two-phase orthodontics might be a better way to straighten teeth. The main reason we recommend two phases is to ensure your child’s jaw has enough space for the permanent teeth to erupt in the proper position.[iii] The AAO gives the following examples of cases where your orthodontist might recommend two-phase treatment:[iv]
- To reduce the risk of needing to pull your child’s permanent teeth down the road
- To treat the problem quickly now when the jaw is still developing versus requiring surgical intervention later
- To correct the jaw relationship, particularly the patient has an underbite
- To help children stop sucking thumbs or other oral problems, like excessive or abnormal swallowing
- To relieve the pressure that could cause teeth to erupt crooked, and that could affect the supporting bone for the teeth
- To protect protruding front teeth that could be knocked out or injured before treatment later
The Pros and Cons of Two-Phase Treatment Plans
Like anything in modern orthodontics, there are pros and cons to two-phase treatment plans. If your orthodontist is presenting it as a treatment plan, be sure to ask a lot of questions to ensure you have what we call “informed consent.”
The pros of two-phase orthodontic treatment are numerous. First, it can reduce the complexity of their orthodontic case because the treatment occurs while the jaw is still pliable. In some cases, it can shorten the amount of time needed for the subsequent second phase after the resting period. Also, when you have the first phase early, you often avoid surgery and extractions of permanent teeth later. Plus, early intervention can facilitate the use of different methods of smile correction for the second phase, like clear aligners which might not have been sufficient enough otherwise. Also, if your child has teeth that come together awkwardly, early treatment can prevent asymmetry in the chewing pattern and undue stress on the jaw.
However, there are cons to two-phase orthodontic treatment also. The most significant is that it takes longer and costs more than one-phase treatment. Another disadvantage of two-phase treatment is that it can lead to poor patient compliance. The oral health care and dietary limitations can be difficult for younger patients, many of whom have trouble taking care of their teeth without the added complications of braces. As a result, parental involvement is crucial to help patients clean their teeth properly and stay within dietary guidelines.
So, is Two-Phase Orthodontics Right for My Child?
In the vast majority of cases, mainly routine crowding cases, two-phase orthodontics is not necessary. However, in some instances, an earlier phase can be a way to give your child a smile you want for them with the least amount of discomfort and hassle. Discuss your options with your orthodontist and ask questions to ensure you have the information you need to make the best decision for your child’s smile.
To schedule your free consultation for your child’s modern orthodontic treatment today, call Bloom Orthodontics office in Long Beach at 562-421-8883.
Bloom Orthodontics in Long Beach has a long history of improving our patients’ smiles. We provide modern orthodontic treatments delivered with old fashioned excellence in patient experience. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Gianelly, Anthony A. “One-phase versus two-phase treatment” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. (1995) Volume 108, Issue 5; 556 – 559. Accessed via Web. 19 September 2019. <https://www.ajodo.org/article/S0889-5406(95)70057-9/pdf>.
“6 Facts about Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment Parents Should Know.” Aaoinfo.org. Web. 19 September 2019. <https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/6-facts-about-two-phase-treatment/>.
[i] “6 Facts about Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment Parents Should Know.” Aaoinfo.org. Web. 19 September 2019. <https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/6-facts-about-two-phase-treatment/>.
[ii] Gianelly, Anthony A. “One-phase versus two-phase treatment” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. (1995) Volume 108, Issue 5; 556 – 559. Accessed via Web. 19 September 2019. <https://www.ajodo.org/article/S0889-5406(95)70057-9/pdf>.
[iii] “6 Facts about Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment Parents Should Know.” Aaoinfo.org. Web. 19 September 2019. <https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/6-facts-about-two-phase-treatment/>.