Ask the Expert

Braces- Should My Child get One Phase or Two Phases of Orthodontic Treatment?

By Dr. Arjun Patel, Quest Orthodontics August 31, 2017

Braces- Should My Child get One Phase or Two Phases of Orthodontic Treatment?

Not all children need two phases of orthodontic treatment. In fact, research has shown that in many cases doing two phases of orthodontic treatment does not provide any more benefits than doing just one. There are exceptions though and this is what we will discuss in this article. 

Phase-One Treatment
Phase-One orthodontic treatment is also known as an early treatment. Your child should ideally have his/her first orthodontist visit at the age of 7. Treatment at this age should only be recommended for certain problems. Many orthodontists over-treat in phase-one cases, even if benefits don’t justify the treatment, but, there are reasons why some children would need phase-one treatment. The primary goal of phase-one treatment is to reduce the risk of impacted teeth and to correct any severe skeletal issues. Cross-bites or under-bites are examples of a dental and or skeletal issue that needs to be corrected early. Cross-bites can affect the growth of the upper and lower jaw and can have a severe effect on facial esthetics and joint health. Phase-one orthodontic treatment can involve expanders, limited braces, spring retainers, or just space maintainers.

Phase-Two Treatment
Phase-two orthodontic treatment is what most of us are familiar with. It involves full braces on upper and lower teeth. Not only does this phase correct spaces and ameliorate mal-aligned teeth, but it also corrects the bite as needed. Phase-two typically begins around the age of 11 or 12. This phase of orthodontic treatment usually lasts an average of 14-24 months, but, as always, each patient is different with differing case complexities. Phase-two treatment can involved expanders, braces, bite correcting devices, elastics, and other auxiliaries depending on the complexity of the case. Frequently, if phase-one treatment has been done previously, phase-two treatment is much shorter in treatment time.

 Signs of Needing Two Phases of Treatment
Any of the following signs may indicate your child is a good candidate for phase-one treatment:
- Losing baby teeth early
- Biting or chewing problems
- Thumb-sucking after age 5
- If the teeth don’t come together properly when closing, or any evidence of cross-bites
- If upper or lower front teeth are significantly protruded
- If there is significant crowding causing impacted teeth 

Thank you, Quest Orthodontics for answering this week's question. Quest Orthodontics is located at 227 Sandy Springs Pl NE #410 in Atlanta, GA 30328. They are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Dr. Arjun Patel is a Board Certified Orthodontist and can be reached by phone at (470) 440-7330.

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The advice that you are being given is meant to assist with a problem, but since all information about the individual, is not known, it should not be taken as a definitive response. You should consult your personal provider, with specific problems.

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