Here at Daniel & Jones Orthodontics, we’re committed to providing parents and caregivers with important information on what orthodontic care might look like for their children. This includes a discussion about the recommendation by the American Association of Orthodontists that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven. If you have a young child, you may be surprised by this since their mouth is still developing and they have several baby teeth left. But that’s actually why early screenings are such a useful orthodontic tool!
Orthodontists like Dr. Daniel and Dr. Jones spend years learning to identify and treat issues like misaligned bites and crowded teeth. By around age seven, most children will have enough dental “landmarks” in place that our doctors can assess their teeth and jaw to ensure everything is developing correctly. Some parents worry that an early evaluation will always lead to immediate treatment, but that’s rarely the case. Most of the time, we’ll be able to simply monitor a child’s growth patterns over time.
However, some younger children will require early treatment to improve their oral health and the cosmetic appearance of their smiles. Have you ever wondered if your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment? If so, keep reading to learn how our two-phase treatment approach can get their smile off to the very best start!
Early orthodontic evaluations
Your child’s first visit to our Little Rock, Benton, or Bryant office is provided at no charge to you. We’ll take some digital photographs of your child’s teeth during this appointment, along with a series of digital x-rays. This gives us a chance to see what’s happening underneath the gums, like the position and growth of the bones and joints. It will also give us a good look at any teeth that are still below the gum line.
One of our doctors will then perform a painless oral examination before deciding if any immediate treatment is indicated. Most kids around this age will have a mix of permanent and baby teeth, including the first adult molars. These markers give us some insight into the basic alignment of a child’s teeth, from front to back and side to side. Dr. Daniel and Dr. Jones use this information, along with the digital images and x-rays, to determine if there’s enough room in the mouth for all of their permanent teeth to grow in with ease.
Early orthodontic evaluations like these give our expert team the chance to identify, diagnose, and treat many common issues before they have the chance to become more serious. Where immediate treatment is indicated, our two-phase approach can yield exceptional results.
What is two-phase treatment? When is it used?
As you may have surmised from the name, two-phase treatment involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times. There will typically be a rest period in between as well. If any of the following issues are a concern after your child’s evaluation, two-phase treatment may be recommended.
- Your child shows signs of a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment
- Your child already has a developing problem that we want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
- Your child’s jawbones appear to need some extra guidance as they grow (growth modification)
By using two stages of treatment, we’re often able to utilize noninvasive devices first to help promote the healthy growth of the jawbone before fitting a child for braces or aligners. We’ll explore each phase of treatment below!
During this first stage of two-phase treatment, our doctors will determine the best approach for supporting proper jaw growth and preparing the teeth and jaw for the appliance we’re likely to use later. In Phase I, our focus is on creating optimal conditions for the upper and lower jaw to grow in proper alignment. There’s also an emphasis on eliminating issues that can damage a child’s bite and oral health, including:
- crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth
- protruding teeth
- teeth that don’t come together properly
- oral habits that may affect dental development, such as extended thumb-sucking or bottle use
- speech problems
- a jaw that is out of proportion to the rest of the head
- emerging permanent teeth that are being obstructed by primary teeth
If your child has any of the above issues, they may be a good candidate for two-phase treatment! Dental appliances like palatal expanders tend to be the most common treatment in Phase I, but every child has their own specific needs. When you choose Daniel & Jones Orthodontics, your child will receive a customized treatment plan for their unique smile.
With any orthodontic treatment, our goal is to achieve long-term stability. We want the teeth to stay in the positions we’ve guided them to, so the patient can enjoy a straighter smile for years to come! Once the first phase of treatment has been completed, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. As these teeth begin to emerge, we will suspend treatment to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break. During this time, we’ll keep the teeth stable by using a space maintainer or removable retainer.
Phase II treatment will usually be initiated once your child’s permanent teeth have grown in completely. In this stage, the focus is on aligning the teeth. To accomplish this, braces are often placed on the upper and lower teeth to shift them into the desired positions gradually. Our practice offers traditional metal and clear braces as well as clear aligners for a solution that works with your child’s needs, lifestyle, and goals! Once the active phase of treatment is complete, a fixed bonded retainer or removable retainer will be provided to your child. This will ensure their newly straightened smile stays in place over time.
What are the benefits of two-phase treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment can help to gently correct your child’s bite and tooth spacing issues. Dr. Daniel and Dr. Jones will also be able to track your child’s growth patterns to prevent overcorrection and other complications. This approach allows for minute adjustments to ensure the best results possible! Early intervention also helps reduce the need for more invasive procedures later in life.
Give your child’s smile the best start with Daniel & Jones Orthodontics
If you have a child who’s ready for their first orthodontic visit, get in touch today to schedule their FREE consultation with Daniel & Jones Orthodontics! We’d love to meet you both and help them take the first step towards a healthier, happier smile.