You may hear the term two-phase treatment from us at Seabreeze Orthodontics after your child finishes their orthodontic evaluation with us. If you haven’t heard this term before, it might seem a little intimidating. Don’t be worried – it’s more simple than it sounds.
Just to set your mind at ease, we want to assure you that two-phase treatment is not a tricky way to put on two sets of braces. It also doesn’t cost twice the money or take twice the time. We prefer to avoid two-phase treatment if at all possible, but to get long-lasting results, some patients require it. Still not sure what two-phase treatment is or what it fully entails? Let’s take a closer look at two-phase treatment to be sure we are answering all your questions and concerns.
What is two-phase treatment?
Two-phase treatment is an orthodontic process that’s carried out in two stages. Tooth straightening is the first stage. The second stage is physical, facial changes. It allows us to provide our patients with a healthy, beautiful smile that last for years to come.
Phase I begins with interceptive orthodontic treatment. This stage stops orthodontic issues in their preliminary stages so they won’t become serious problems later.
We start Phase II treatment once your child has all their permanent teeth. Since Phase II is used for perfect teeth alignment, it cannot be done while there are still baby teeth.
Phase I Orthodontic Treatment
When a young patient needs intervention before regular orthodontic treatment, they go through two distinct phases. Phase I often includes orthodontic devices like palatal expanders, partial braces, and retainer-like devices. These devices are used to correct the issues currently happening, to prevent future issues, and to help adjust the child’s growth and dental development. Phase I treatment happens between the ages of six and ten, so patients usually have a combination of baby teeth and permanent teeth. Phase I treatment is generally only recommended when there are dental development problems, or jaw development problems that would steadily become worse if not treated.
While many children do not need treatment this soon in their lives, the American Association of Orthodontics— as well as Seabreeze Orthodontics — recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by or before their seventh birthday. This way, we can see if any treatment does need to be implemented sooner rather than later. Having an early consultation with our compassionate and friendly team is a wonderful first step in ensuring that your child’s growth and dental development are headed in the right direction. Phase I corrects a wide array of dental difficulties like tooth alignment, jaw development, gum or periodontal health, and crowding and spacing problems.
We also recommend Phase I treatment for common dental issues such as:
- Jaw growth or jaws that aren’t in proportion to each other
- Severely protruding teeth
- Challenging oral habits, such as extended thumb-sucking, bottle or pacifier use
- Severe crowding or spacing of the teeth
- Dental crossbites
- Skeletal crossbites
- Excessively overlapping or deep bites
- Open bites (situations in which the front teeth do not contact or overlap)
Often, but not always, an additional treatment phase will be required after Phase I. Since Phase I provides early intervention – and can take a little time – Phase II usually does not take as long as Phase I. By treating dental problems early, they can often be reduced to simpler issues which can be remedied at a later time with braces or orthodontic devices.
A Period of Rest
All teeth are not in their final positions at the end of developmental orthodontics— they’re only aligned to their permanent positions during comprehensive treatment. A period of rest follows the developmental treatment so that your child’s permanent teeth have an opportunity to emerge into a more healthy position. During this period of rest, retainers are typically not used. This is because teeth should not be held in place too tightly as the remaining permanent teeth are coming in.
Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment
After developmental treatment in Phase I and a resting period, some patients can benefit from comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Many patients are somewhat familiar with the orthodontic treatments that happen in this phase because comprehensive treatment usually consists of installing braces on the upper and lower teeth. Here, we pay special attention to ensure that each tooth has a dedicated, optimal place in the mouth where it can co-exist with the lips, tongue, cheeks, and other teeth. Using orthodontics, we can achieve this balance and teeth can finally function together as they were intended— for a lifetime!
Once your child completes their comprehensive treatment, they’ll probably be given retainers to help preserve their results. Retainers are important to limit the relapse that always occurs to some degree, so they can keep their beautiful, straight smile for years to come.
Our team at Seabreeze Orthodontics is extremely conservative and believes in letting nature take its course whenever possible. For this reason, most of our patients do not undergo an early phase of developmental treatment. But, when it’s needed, it’s extremely helpful and saves parents both time and money in the end. In many cases, identifying a problem early on is the best way to get long-lasting, permanent results.
If you’re in the Myrtle Beach area, and your child is already seven and has not yet seen an orthodontic specialist for an evaluation, please see us for a complimentary evaluation. We’ll be sure to answer all of your questions and provide you with excellent information about what to expect in the future. We’re excited to meet you and help your child get on the road to a healthy, beautiful smile.