Problems that will eventually need orthodontic attention can become obvious long before a child has all of their permanent teeth. Depending on the type of problem a child has, an AAO orthodontist may recommend two-phase treatment. It means that treatment is done at two different times, often to take advantage of predictable stages of dental development and physical growth. Here are six things parents should know about two-phase orthodontic treatment.
1. Two-phase orthodontic treatment is for kids, but it’s not for all kids.
Most orthodontic problems can be treated in one phase of comprehensive treatment, however there are a few exceptions.
2. Two-phase orthodontic treatment can be used to:
Help the jaws develop to ensure adequate space for all of the permanent teeth, especially the permanent canines.
- May reduce the need to pull permanent teeth in the future.
- Some problems that can be treated quite well in a growing child but may require corrective surgery if treatment occurs after growth ends.
- Normalize the relationship of the upper jaw to the lower jaw, especially in the case of an underbite.
- Intervene in a child’s prolonged sucking or abnormal swallowing.
- Damaging pressure can move teeth in the wrong directions and/or change the shape of the bone that supports teeth.
- Tuck in upper front teeth that stick out to reduce the risk of those teeth being broken or knocked out.
3. Moving baby teeth is not done for the sake of their appearance.
While baby teeth can move during Phase One orthodontic treatment, their movement is part of the process to ensure sufficient space for permanent teeth.
4. Phase One of a two-phase orthodontic treatment begins when a child still has some baby teeth.
If an appliance is used in Phase One care, it could be a form of braces or another fixed appliance, or could be a removable appliance. The type of appliance used depends on the needs of the individual patient.
- Some children may need to have baby teeth removed to clear a path for the permanent teeth to come.
5. A resting period follows Phase One orthodontic treatment.
6. Phase Two of orthodontic treatment usually begins when most or all of permanent teeth are in.
Give your child the best chance at a healthy, beautiful smile. Follow the American Association of Orthodontists’ (AAO) recommendation that all children have their first check-up with an AAO orthodontist no later than age 7. If an orthodontic problem is developing, the orthodontist will be able to monitor growth and development so that your child can have the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.
Visit Find an Orthodontist to locate nearby AAO orthodontists. No referral needed! Many AAO orthodontists offer initial consultations at little or no cost.
When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a true orthodontist. Like their medical counterparts who study their specialty areas after their general medical education, orthodontists study their specialty area, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, after completing their general dental education. Only bona fide orthodontists get to be members of the American Association of Orthodontists.
People who are considering orthodontic treatment usually come prepared with great questions when they consult AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) specialists. The question at the top of the list is often which type of appliance to use to correct their orthodontic problem – braces vs clear aligners? How do they decide?
First, keep in mind that there is not a single “right way” for orthodontic treatment to be done. An accurate diagnosis is the starting place, and that’s something that orthodontists are especially well-trained at, after obtaining orthodontic records (x-rays, photos and models). The orthodontist pinpoints the problem, and then crafts a customized correction.
One appliance is not inherently better than another. What is used for an individual’s correction will be based on the goals of treatment, and the patient’s lifestyle needs. Some things, however, apply to all patients, regardless of type of appliance. For example, all patients must brush and floss their teeth daily and will need to wear retainers post-treatment. Now, let’s examine some common treatment factors to consider for both braces and clear aligners.
Most orthodontic problems can be successfully treated using braces. Braces have been the traditional form of treatment used by orthodontists for decades, but today’s streamlined braces come in a variety of models – stainless steel, tooth-colored ceramic and even gold-colored.
While there are more inconspicuous options (tooth colored brackets, braces that go behind the teeth), other elements remain visible (rubber bands, wires or gold colored brackets). You can, however, choose the colors of your rubber bands.
For a stable and functional result, braces remain affixed to the teeth throughout the course of treatment. On the bright side, you can’t lose them, unless you eat hard and sticky foods.
There may be some initial discomfort when braces are placed or adjusted, and brackets and wires can temporarily irritate mouth tissue. Overall, the discomfort is short-lived and easily managed. Once patients become accustomed to their braces, they may even forget they have them on.
Patients will need to keep teeth, gums and braces free of plaque and food debris so bacteria can’t attack tooth enamel or cause inflamed gums. Food debris and plaque must be removed by frequent brushing and flossing.
Those with braces must steer clear of foods that are hard, sticky, crunchy and chewy to avoid breaking a bracket or popping a wire out of the bracket. Patients should opt for water instead of carbonated drinks, flavored waters, or sports drinks – these can contain acids and sugars, and both are bad for tooth enamel.
Clear aligners are plastic replicas of your teeth. Wearing them puts gentle pressure on the teeth, ever-so-slightly repositioning them. Aligners are one of many technological advancements that have made orthodontic treatment less conspicuous and one of the many appliances orthodontists use to move teeth and align jaws.
Aligners are clear, thin, plastic-like trays, making them virtually invisible and allowing an individual to inconspicuously achieve a straight smile. Tooth colored attachments are frequently placed on the teeth to help guide the teeth into place. Aligners are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit any lifestyle.
Many patients appreciate that aligners are removable. Take them out to eat, to brush and floss, or for short periods for work or social occasions. The key responsibility is wearing them as prescribed. That typically means a minimum of 22 hours a day and in the correct sequence.
Because they are removable, aligners can be easily lost or damaged. They fall out of pockets and purses and may even get wrapped in a napkin and thrown away.
While there may be some initial discomfort when a patient switches to a new set of aligners, the discomfort can be easily managed. Removing aligners because they are uncomfortable defeats their purpose. Aligners can’t work unless they are in the mouth.
It is critical to avoid drinking soft drinks, flavored waters or sports drinks of any kind with aligners in. Liquids seep into aligners and if they contain acid, sugar, or both, it can rapidly lead to staining of the teeth and extensive decay. Teeth need to be spotless when aligners are placed in the mouth.
The type of appliance used in orthodontic treatment is far less important than the skill in the hands of the person who is providing the treatment. Rely on the skills of the AAO orthodontist, who has the education, experience and expertise to evaluate diagnostic findings, and translate those into a treatment plan that will help you or your child achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.
When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.← back to the blog