Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment
What is an Interceptive Phase?
On average, a child’s first permanent tooth will come in at age 6 and the last tooth will come in around 12. Some permanent teeth can be at risk of damage even prior to eruption.
An interceptive phase is recommended to intercept or correct a developing problem. Early orthodontic intervention with a corrective appliance can prevent a more severe problem from occurring later.
Will they need more treatment later?
Sometimes interceptive orthodontic treatment is all that a patient needs. More often, though, patients will require another phase.
What is Phase I?
At the age of 7 we start to evaluate for an early phase of braces. Because the child is young and still growing, we can use that growth to our advantage in order to help correct skeletal issues that will affect their teeth.
For example, sometimes the permanent teeth can’t come in because they are so big that they can’t fit inside that little mouth. Early orthodontic intervention in this case, by means of expansion, can create more space for those big beautiful permanent teeth to fit in the way they should.
So even though you may see braces on a younger child, our goal is not to make their teeth look straight and perfect at this point, but rather to create a better environment for their permanent teeth to come in.
Why do they need to start so soon? Won't they lose those teeth anyway?
The purpose of early treatment is not moving baby teeth to improve their appearance. Rather, early treatment is done to create a healthy environment for permanent teeth that will be coming in.
While baby teeth may be repositioned in Phase I orthodontic treatment, their movement is incidental. Baby teeth are there to hold space for permanent teeth, to help with facial development, to make it possible to bite and chew, and for clear speech.
Will they need another phase?
Sometimes Phase I orthodontic treatment is all that a patient requires. If the permanent teeth were all able to erupt in an ideal way and the bite is coming together beautifully, then we are all happy and no more treatment is needed.
More often, though, patients will require a second phase of orthodontic treatment once they have most or all of their permanent teeth. This completes the tooth and jaw alignment that was started with the first phase.
What is Phase II?
The goal of Phase II orthodontic treatment is to bring all of the permanent teeth into alignment and proper occlusion. Final adjustments to the bite are made and teeth are aesthetically brought together.
This is the phase that we typically think of when we think of orthodontic treatment.
Why is a second phase necessary?
Because the goal of the first phase was to create a better environment for the permanent teeth to come in, now that the permanent teeth are in, it is time to put them all in place.
How do we know when it is time to start Phase II?
When Phase I is complete, Dr. Eric will give an estimated time of when the second phase will be needed. He will also let Dr. Bobby know what to look for in his exams as indicators of when it is time to refer your child back to ortho.
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