Two-Phase Treatment

What is Two-Phase Dental Treatment?

As with all medical issues, the key to great dental health is early detection and treatment of problems. When children receive early orthodontic correction, problems are minimized and treatments are simple. In contrast, when treatment is delayed, problems can escalate, requiring more invasive options (even surgery!) For children who could potentially develop severe orthodontic problems, we recommend a two-phase treatment plan that cuts off problems before they escalate.

First phase – What is the goal?

The first phase of the two-phase system focuses on encouraging proper jaw alignment. Proper dental health requires a precise match between the upper and lower jaws; they must each have an appropriate and matching size, shape, and alignment. Since the primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” usually fall out by adolescence, first-phase treatment rarely emphasizes aligning individual teeth. Instead, your dentist’s goal is to coach the structures of the jaw and face into a healthy alignment that will allow the permanent teeth to grow into their appropriate positions.

In order to accomplish this goal, a variety of orthodontic appliances can be used. To correct the alignment of the upper and lower jaws, a combination of braces, expanders, retainers, or headgear might be used. In addition to correcting alignment, first-phase treatment can eliminate the underlying problems that cause misalignment and malocclusions. For example, many orthodontic problems can be due to a child’s bad habits, such as thumb-sucking. Devices such as a dental crib can provide rapid, fantastic results. Eliminating these underlying problems before they escalate is one of the best reasons to start early first-phase treatment.

A rest period

First-phase treatment is often completed before the permanent teeth have erupted, and before the second phase can begin. This rest period could last from when your child is 9 to when they are 12 years old, as a typical example. However, this is not a time to ignore your child’s dental health completely. Regular dental check-ups will ensure that your child’s teeth are developing as they should.

Second-phase treatment – A permanent solution

Second-phase treatment can begin when all of the permanent teeth (excluding the wisdom teeth, which erupt much later) have grown into the mouth. Generally, this might be at around 12–13 years of age. After a successful first phase, the jaws and facial structures should be in a perfect, natural alignment, allowing us to focus on the healthy development of the permanent teeth. Depending on your child’s needs, treatments may vary. Usually, proper alignment can be achieved with the use of braces, including advanced specialty devices such as Invisalign® or Empower® braces. Once the braces are removed, a retainer might be used to guarantee that the results are permanent. After treatment, your child can look forward to a lifetime with a healthy, beautiful smile.