At Austin Orthodontic Arts, the journey to an attractive, healthy smile begins early. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic check-up by age seven to assess the need for two-phase treatment. But why? And why should your child have two-phase treatment?
Orthodontics & Children
Ever noticed how a tree grows straight if it has a little support when it’s young? Teeth are kind of the same. As kids grow, their teeth can sometimes become crooked or crowded. Maybe there’s a gap that wasn’t there before, or their bite seems off. This is where orthodontics jumps in to save the day!
Now, you might wonder, “Why start so young? Can’t we wait a bit?” Well, yes and no. By age seven, kids have a mix of baby and adult teeth, making it the perfect time for an orthodontist to spot any early issues. Tackling these problems now can mean quicker, more straightforward treatments. While most children don’t need treatment at that age, we still encourage all children to see an orthodontist by age seven to know for sure!
Signs To Look Out For
The most accurate and quickest way to know if your child needs treatment is to bring them to Austin Orthodontic Arts! Our experienced and welcoming techs will take X-rays, 3D digital models (no more goopy mold impressions!), and photos! Then Drs. Hime, Salome, and Naj, our board-certified orthodontists, will look over this information and perform a thorough examination of your child’s facial structure, teeth, gums, and jaw bone.
As mentioned earlier, we agree with the American Association of Orthodontics and suggest all children see an orthodontist by age seven, whether a pediatric dentist refers them or not. Orthodontists are trained to see things others cannot! However, there are some warning signs you might notice on your own. Let’s check them out.
If your child’s teeth look like they’re playing musical chairs (fighting for a spot) or like there’s not enough room for everyone, it’s a sign they might need orthodontic intervention now!
Gaps and Spaces
While some gaps, like the one between the front teeth, can be cute on little kids, they might not close the space with age. If you notice your child’s child increasing or staying stable as they get older, give us a call!
If the top and bottom teeth don’t meet correctly when your child bites down, it’s called a bite problem. Possible bite issues include overbite, underbite, crossbite, or crowding.
Mouth breathing can be habitual or a sign that something’s wrong with how teeth or jaws are aligned.
If your child struggles to bite into or chew their food, it might be due to misaligned teeth.
Jaws That Click or Shift
If you notice noise or unusual movement from the jaw, an orthodontist should examine your child.
If your child complains of pain, frustration, or difficulty with eating, talking, or performing oral hygiene, they could need braces.
These are just some of the symptoms! A quick visit to the orthodontist can help you determine if everything’s on track or if some help is needed. If Dr. Hime, Dr. Salome, or Dr. Naj determine your child needs to begin care sooner rather than later, they’ll talk to you about two-phase treatment!
What Is Two-Phase Treatment?
Two-phase treatment is a specialized process designed to harness a child’s growth to achieve the best orthodontic results. Instead of waiting for potential problems to fully develop or worsen, this approach addresses issues early on by taking advantage of the pliability of children’s bones.
Phase 1: The Foundation
This phase starts when a child has a mix of baby and permanent teeth. The focus is on the jaw and guaranteeing enough space for all future adult teeth. We’ll use tools like expanders, limited braces, space maintainers, or retainers to correct bite issues, make room for crowded teeth, and set the stage for the next phase.
Phase 2: The Fine-Tuning
Once most adult teeth have come in, it’s time to refine. This phase is what people usually think of when they think of braces. It involves full braces or aligners to position each tooth perfectly and create a harmonious bite and a straight smile.
What Are The Benefits Of Two-Phase Treatment?
Naturally, you’re probably wondering why we can’t do this when your child is a teen or an adult. The truth is that we can provide orthodontic work at any age, but sometimes two phases are best for comfort, health, and budget.
Less Invasive Treatment Methods
Starting early often means preventing more significant issues down the road. By addressing potential problems in the first phase, we can often reduce or eliminate the need for more extensive treatments (like surgery or tooth-pulling) later. It’s like leaving the house early to avoid traffic—you know it’s coming, so why sit through it?
Shorter Treatment Times
Nobody wants to wear braces longer than necessary. Thanks to phase 1, the time spent in full braces during phase 2 can often be decreased (compared to patients who skip phase 1. Two-phase treatment is an efficient and effective way of getting the desired results faster.
Growing up can be tough, and self-esteem plays a big role. By addressing orthodontic concerns earlier, we can give kids a confidence boost. A straighter smile can make all the difference to a person’s ability to form relationships and feel good about their appearance.
Healthier Oral Environment
Straight teeth aren’t just about looks. They’re easier to clean, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Eliminating frustration toward or pain from oral hygiene can make it easier for a child to develop healthy habits for life! A correct bite also means less wear and tear on teeth and fewer potential jaw issues.
Two-phase treatment can often be more budget-friendly in the long run by potentially reducing the need for more complex treatments or surgeries later, saving you and your child time and money.
Other benefits include fewer challenges with speaking, eating, and breathing.