When you’re trying to determine if your child may need orthodontic treatment, what kind they might require, and when they’ll need it, it’s easy to feel slightly overwhelmed! Having access to so much information online can be a bit of a double-edged sword, especially when you’re looking for accurate answers about medical, dental, or orthodontic issues. Dunn Orthodontics is here to provide you with reliable information that makes it easier to understand what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care could look like. Keep reading below for clear and concise information from a trusted orthodontic source!

The first step in your child’s orthodontic journey

The first step in any orthodontic journey is an initial evaluation with an experienced orthodontist like Drs. Matthew and Courtney Dunn. Although there is no minimum age for a child to have their first visit with us, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic consultation by the time they’re around seven years old. At this point, most will have a mix of permanent and baby teeth, which gives us the opportunity to find, diagnose, and treat many common dental issues before they can cause more serious problems.

Early intervention like this can also help to reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment at a later age. This process can actually be summed up by two-phase treatment, a specialized service we offer that is designed to be proactive rather than reactive.We often recommend this treatment for younger patients we anticipate will need orthodontics as they grow.

Understanding two-phase orthodontic treatment

Two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, with a break in between. The first phase of treatment will usually be initiated when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. This is followed by a period of rest before the second phase begins, which normally happens once most or all of the adult teeth have emerged.

With two-phase treatment, we work to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow into, giving them the best start for a healthy, aligned, and attractive smile. This process helps to promote an ideal environment by:

  • creating a more optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws
  • aligning the teeth, resulting in a straighter smile
  • positioning the teeth and jaws for more pleasing facial symmetry

During your child’s initial orthodontic examination, one of our experienced doctors will thoroughly inspect their teeth and jaws. We may recommend two-phase treatment if it appears that:

  • your child will be prone to 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 may need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)

A fun teenager with braces on his teeth walking in the rain on the street of his city

At Dunn Orthodontics, we’re careful to follow the normal patterns of childhood growth and development, as this gives us the best chance to improve and correct orthodontic issues at an opportune time. Issues that can be treated relatively easily in a growing child may potentially require more invasive treatment as they get older and their jaw bones stop growing. Early treatment can often achieve lasting results for many of these problems, and it may even be able to lessen the impact of others. Most patients, however, will still require a second phase of treatment in order to complete the alignment process we begin with the first phase.

How two-phase treatment works

In order to understand a little bit more about how two-phase treatment works to improve your child’s oral health, it helps to have some knowledge of the basics of each phase and what goes on during the resting period.

Phase One

Phase one treatment helps a child’s jaw develop so that it can better accommodate the permanent teeth. It can also improve how the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment has numerous benefits, improving a child’s ability to bite, chew, and digest food more effectively, and reducing the risk for tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.

Treatment in this phase contributes to longer-term stability, leaving teeth in the position our doctors guide them to. The second phase of treatment continues this stabilizing process by moving the teeth into their final positions, but before we can begin this, there will be a period of time where the child’s permanent teeth are emerging. While this is occurring, we will suspend orthodontic treatment in order to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break.

Resting Period

After we have successfully achieved the first phase of treatment, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. We will often choose to keep teeth stable during this resting period by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer.

Phase Two

Finally, everything begins to come together! We’ll normally initiate this phase once all the permanent teeth have erupted. It will generally require the use of traditional braces or clear aligner therapy. Once these active phases of treatment are complete, we’ll use a retainer to ensure straightened teeth stay in their new and improved positions.

girl with braces

Creating beautifully customized smiles with Dunn Orthodontics

“One size fits all” treatment is something you’ll never encounter at Dunn Orthodontics. We believe every smile is unique, and we know that what works for one child won’t always work for another. Your child’s specific needs will be at the center of their individualized treatment plan. Our talented team work hard to provide a high-quality, relaxing, and rewarding orthodontic experience to patients in Litchfield Park, Phoenix, Arcadia, and the surrounding communities. If you have a child who is the right age for their first orthodontic evaluation, get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment. There’s never been a better time to take the first step toward a healthier, happier smile for your child!