Though our orthodontists can enhance your smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Along with the American Association of Orthodontists, we recommend that your child gets a check-up with an orthodontist at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. By age seven, your child’s mouth has grown enough and has enough sound structure to know how it will develop as the permanent teeth start to emerge. By starting treatment early, we are able to recognize potential problems early and correct them before they become more serious. We offer Phase I, Phase II and Comprehensive Treatment for children.
Phase I (Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment)
Some orthodontic conditions are easier to correct if they are corrected early. Phase I treatment is usually started between ages 7-10, while your child still has most of their primary (“baby”) teeth. It may be necessary for various reasons:
- to create room for crowded, erupting teeth,
- to create facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth,
- to reduce risk of trauma to protruding front teeth,
- to preserve space for unerupted teeth, etc.
Phase I treatment can simplify or possibly eliminate, future full orthodontic treatment. Not all young patients need Phase I treatment, and those who do, will often need additional treatment when they are older (Phase II treatment).
Typically, a patient requiring early treatment will have a removable appliance (similar to a retainer) and/or 4-6 braces on the erupted permanent teeth. Treatment may also involve an expander if a cross-bite or significant crowding is present. Specifics of treatment will be discussed thoroughly with you and your child at the consultation.
Phase II (Traditional Braces)
If needed, final positioning of the permanent teeth and completion of the bite correction will be accomplished in the second phase of treatment. A small percent of Phase I patients do not require a second phase of treatment; however, most do need it. The goal of the Phase II treatment is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the moth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. Phase II usually involves full upper and lower braces.
Comprehensive orthodontic treatment refers to having conventional braces, sometimes with another orthodontic appliance at the same time, when most of the permanent teeth have erupted. On average, this occurs at age 11-12. A patient who requires comprehensive treatment will only need this one stage of orthodontic treatment, which usually takes from 12 to 30 months. These patients do not have severe bite problems or crowding that require early intervention. Or they may be patients who do have a severe bite problem, like a moderate to severe overbite, who missed early correction window or are better suited for treatment at this age when they are going through a growth spurt that will aid in the correction of their overbite.