Dental professionals can tell pretty early on whether or not a child will need orthodontic intervention to have a properly aligned smile. In fact, it’s recommended that a child have their first orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven when their permanent teeth start coming in. But treatment may or may not actually be recommended at this time.
Parents may worry that starting braces early will just mean their child's teeth will go crooked again in their late teens. In reality, some children benefit from early intervention orthodontics to guide their dental development, reduce the occurrence and severity of misalignment and necessary tooth extractions, diagnose myofunctional issues like a prolonged tongue thrust, and decrease the overall time they spend in braces.
Phase 1 & Phase 2 Orthodontic Treatment
In general, orthodontic treatment is broken up into two phases: phase one and phase two.
Phase one occurs when a child has both primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. It's mainly done to ensure that there’s enough space for the rest of the permanent teeth to come in properly and to prevent and treat bigger picture issues involving the jaw like a misaligned bite. During this phase, we use preparatory treatments like a removable appliance, space maintainers, palatal expanders, and partial braces.
Phase two orthodontic treatment involves complete braces with brackets, wires, and rubber bands or Invisalign clear aligners to correct crooked, misaligned, and gapped teeth. These treatments finish moving a patient's permanent teeth into their desired positions.
Finding the Sweet Spot
While some young patients can benefit from phase one orthodontic intervention, it's not the right choice for every patient. And phase two treatment is only recommended when all of a child's permanent teeth are ready. Otherwise, there’s a risk that misalignment issues will occur as the patient grows and their permanent teeth finish coming in.
It is true that teeth tend to naturally shift even after proper timing of phase two orthodontic treatment. However, this can mostly be prevented by wearing your retainer and caring for it as instructed after treatment is complete!
If you have questions about orthodontic treatment, whether for yourself or for your child, please ask our team at Gastonia Family Dentistry. We provide comprehensive orthodontic care at our office and would love to guide you toward a straighter, healthier smile. Contact us today to set up an orthodontic consultation!