One of the most common questions we are asked by parents of our teenage patients is ‘At what age should a child be seen by an orthodontist?’ They may have a younger child at home and are worried about possible undetected and developing orthodontic problems.
The American Association of orthodontists recommends that all children should see an orthodontist by the age of seven. At this age the incisor teeth should have started to erupt and the first permanent molar teeth should already have erupted and established contact with each other. However, only a small percentage of children will actually require treatment at this age.
Early or ‘Two phase’ treatment is orthodontic treatment before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. We use this approach if we feel that waiting may cause a more difficult treatment plan or a less desirable outcome.
“Overall the service from Peter and his team in providing orthodontic treatment to our daughter Emma Kate was excellent. From our first consultation, each step of the process was clearly explained and we are informed through the process of progress made and importantly any issues arising. All staff members were professional and friendly in their dealings with us. When treatment was completed we were more than satisfied with the outcome. We recommend Peter and his team highly.”
– Kieran B.
The fundamental questions we ask when evaluating a patient for early treatment are:
- 1. If I don’t treat now, will I miss a window of opportunity that will affect his/her outcome?
- 2. If I do 2 phases of treatment on this patient, will I achieve a better and/or more stable outcome than treating with one phase?
- 3. Will the patient look/function any differently at 18 if I treat in 1 phase versus 2 phases?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then early treatment may be indicated. Orthodontic problems that are typically treated with early phase treatment include cross bites or narrow palates, open bites, under bites and prominent and spaced upper teeth that would be at a greater risk of trauma.
Early treatment can vary from as little as three to six months but is usually up to a year of treatment time. At the end of this phase of active treatment the child’s developing dentition is monitored by the orthodontist until the permanent teeth have erupted. Once all of the permanent teeth have erupted, there will generally be a second or additional phase of treatment to achieve the best outcome.
At Keenan Orthodontics, when a child is initially assessed for possible early treatment, a panoramic x-ray of the teeth and jaw is taken to determine if there are any missing or extra teeth present, the position of the unerupted teeth and the roots and shape of the teeth. If treatment is indicated we will discuss why and what is specifically needed. If orthodontic problems are evident but no early treatment is indicated, we will continue to monitor your child’s teeth and jaw development, at no fee, until the appropriate time for treatment. This allows us to begin treatment at precisely the right time to guarantee the best results.
If you have a child seven years or older that has not yet been evaluated by an orthodontist, please feel free to contact our office. We look forward to working together with you and your family, creating smiles that last a lifetime.
Keenan Orthodontics provides the highest quality orthodontic treatment. From stylish coloured braces to Invisalign, no matter what your orthodontic issue is, our team is here to help. We strive to provide caring and affordable orthodontics in a friendly environment, for all our patients, at our Galway and Castlebar offices.
We are committed to ensuring that every patient has an exceptional experience on their way to their dream smile.
What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a very specialized process that encompasses tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The major advantage of a two-phase treatment is to maximise the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, esthetic result that will remain stable throughout your life.
What if I put off treatment?
The disadvantage of waiting for complete eruption of permanent teeth and having only one phase of treatment for someone with a jaw discrepancy is facing the possibility of a compromised result that may not be stable.
First Phase Treatment: Your foundation for a lifetime of beautiful teeth
The goal of first phase treatment is to develop the jaw size in order to accommodate all the permanent teeth and to relate the upper and lower jaws to each other. Children sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper and lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognised at an early age. If children after age 6 are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment.
Planning now can save your smile later
Because they are growing rapidly, children can benefit enormously from an early phase of orthodontic treatment utilising appliances that direct the growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws. Thus, a good foundation can be established, providing adequate room for eruption of all permanent teeth. This early correction may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws. Leaving such a condition untreated until all permanent teeth erupt could result in a jaw discrepancy too severe to achieve an ideal result with braces.
Making records to determine your unique treatment
Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, x-rays, and photographs.
In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. A successful first phase will have created room for teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.
Monitoring your teeth’s progress
In other words, at the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.
Second Phase Treatment: Stay healthy and look attractive
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly.
Movement & Retention
At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase, as dictated by the problem. The second phase is initiated when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you retain your beautiful smile.