Two-phase orthodontic treatment, also called “early phase treatment”, is a specialized process that takes advantage of a critical period of jaw growth to maximize the potential for successful tooth alignment in the future. In some cases, correcting tooth and jaw positioning early on encourages more satisfactory dental and facial development during the teen and pre-teen years.
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Not everyone needs two-phase orthodontic treatment. At the age of six, we can begin to identify serious misalignment issues, for example an upper or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough. Children with severe alignment problems can benefit substantially by an early dose of orthodontic treatment. If left untreated, jaw discrepancies and overcrowding will likely get worse over time and may become too severe for braces to be effective. Early orthodontic intervention reduces the need for extraction and other complicated, costly procedures later on.
Overall, the benefits of two-phase treatment are:
The first, or early phase of treatment, takes place during the mixed dentition phase. This simply means that the child still has both permanent and baby teeth. During this treatment phase, which usually takes 12-18 months, we correct problems such as overcrowding and functional and skeletal problems with the jaw to encourage a more balanced bite. The treatment may include a combination of appliances, for example a removable retainer plus braces on existing permanent teeth.
In between the first and second phases, a rest period is observed during which we wait for the remaining permanent teeth to erupt. We will see you during the resting period, usually once every 3-6 months, to monitor your progress.
The second phase of treatment begins once all of the permanent teeth have erupted. It usually involves a full set of upper and lower braces. Because the jaw is in a better position and each permanent tooth has found its proper space, often at this stage we can focus on aesthetics alone, building a beautiful smile to last a lifetime.
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