Two-Phase Orthodontics: Are They Right For Your Child?

You may be surprised at the age of some of the children you see wearing braces. It used to be common to wait until all, or the majority, of the secondary teeth are present. However, more orthodontists are recommending a two-phase orthodontic treatment. The first phase starts as early as seven or eight. This phase will last anywhere from 12 to 14 months, depending on your child's teeth. The second phase will begin once the rest of the permanent teeth have erupted and will take another 24 months. There are specific reasons you would want your child to have two-phase orthodontics instead of the normal single phase that lasts about 24 months total.

Severe Bite Problems

If your child has a severe under or overbite, having orthodontics started early helps to put the jaw into proper alignment. Braces can be used to widen a narrow jaw or make a wide one more narrow too. This will ensure that your child's teeth line up properly. Having your upper and lower jaws properly aligned is important for proper eating and speech, not just for cosmetic reasons.

Overcrowding Issues

Single phase braces can shift overcrowded teeth around so they are not overlapping. However, if the baby teeth are so crowded the permanent teeth do not have room to erupt correctly, the secondary teeth may be pushed further into the mouth, erupting in the wrong place. This may result is permanent teeth being extracted that do not need to be removed. Wearing braces to move the baby teeth around and make room for the permanent teeth is the best way to handle this issue.

Harmful Oral Habits

If your child is a finger sucker or uses a pacifier, his or her teeth and jaw can grow incorrectly so there is a bite problem. Mouth breathing, teeth grinding, and jaw clenching are other habits that should be stopped at an early age to prevent damage to the jaws and teeth. The early phase of orthodontics can be used to correct these issues. Rubber bands and headgear can be used to keep fingers or pacifiers from fitting inside the mouth. Rubber bands are also used to help a child keep his or her mouth closed and to breathe through the nose. Spacers, retainers, and mouth guards are used to prevent grinding and to keep the jaws aligned.

Not all children require two-phase orthodontics. However, if you are concerned about your child's bite or notice that even the baby teeth are crowded, talk to your dentist. He or she will be able to recommend an orthodontist who can examine the teeth and jaws and determine the best course of action.

For more information, contact Arapahoe Orthodontics P.C. or a similar location.