Early Intervention and Two-Phase Treatment


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You may have heard your orthodontist mention the importance of early prevention, but what exactly does that mean? Why is it better to begin treatment before any problems arise?

At Crescent Orthodontic Specialists, we stress preventative care to ensure the health of your child’s teeth in the future. By simply monitoring your child’s growth and development along with tooth eruption, your orthodontist can help decide the perfect timing of treatment for your child.

What Is Early Prevention?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist when they reach seven years of age. Seven is an ideal age for an initial visit to an orthodontist to detect any abnormalities with the teeth or bite position that may cause problems later. Because your child’s jaws and teeth are changing so rapidly, it’s important that a certified orthodontist see your child every 6-12 months from age seven until they are ready for treatment. At our office we do not charge for these observation visits, including the necessary x-rays and photos.

Each child is unique in their jaw growth and eruption of their baby teeth. Children who have jaw growth issues, crossbites, thumb-sucking habits or early loss of baby teeth may need early preventative treatment between the ages of 7-11.who don’t have any of these issues may be able to forgo treatment until most of their permanent teeth have erupted, from age 11 until 13. Because the timing is different for every child, your orthodontist will monitor their jaw growth and tooth eruption at no charge until they are ready for treatment.

Recognize the Signs

There are a few signs you should look out for to determine whether your child needs early treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Noticeable overbite or underbite
  • Teeth that don’t come together normally
  • Crowding of the front teeth
  • Speech impediments
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb sucking
  • Protruding teeth
  • Jaw shifting

It’s essential to discuss any of these issues with an orthodontist so you have a clear picture of what to look for. Your orthodontist will also take x-rays to detect issues that can’t be seen. We encourage all family, friends and future patients to schedule a free complimentary consultation by age seven to let us monitor your child at no charge every 6-12 months. It is not necessary to have a dental referral for this free exam, and if you don’t have a dentist we will recommend one for you who we feel is a good fit for you and your family.

Two-Phase Treatment

Two-phase treatment combines both tooth-straightening and skeletal changes of the teeth and jaws. In general, about 10-15% of children aged 7-10 can benefit from some form of early phase treatment.

Why Receive Two-Phase Treatment?

Tooth and jaw abnormalities can have detrimental effects on a young child’s dental health and quality of life.

Discomfort related to specific dental issues can interfere with a child’s well-being and make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, like chewing or brushing, which is why we suggest addressing the issue early on if needed. Also, it is important if you feel your child is being teased at school due to jaw or tooth related issues get them into our office.

Early intervention with two-phase treatment can help prevent expensive and invasive dental and facial skeletal treatment as your child grows older. Issues that might require surgery or more extensive methods in the teen or adult years are often treatable with appliances when a younger child’s jaws are still developing, making the treatment less invasive and more cost-effective.

Rest assured that Phase One in our office is only recommended for those patients we feel truly would benefit from it now rather than waiting.

What Happens During Phase One?

Phase One treatment targets jaw development and alignment mainly, which affect the way the teeth fit together and many times have an impact on the position of the lips and soft tissue profile.

Most Phase One treatment is accomplished using an appliance, such as a palatal expander, or a partial set of braces.

What Happens During Phase Two?

Phase Two treatment is what people normally picture when they think of orthodontic treatment. It typically involves braces on the upper and lower teeth, or Invisalign, after a patient’s permanent teeth have all erupted. Your orthodontist will make sure each tooth is in a location that’s in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue and remaining teeth.

Due to modern orthodontic advances, including the use of Phase One treatment, only 10% of our patients require extraction of permanent teeth during Phase Two. This number does not include wisdom teeth - 90% or more of patients will need their wisdom teeth taken out at some point during their late teens.

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