The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be examined by an orthodontist at age 7. Normally, Dr. Wing will not recommend treatment at this age, but he will place the child in an observation program to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth every 6 months. In some circumstances, however, it is necessary to undergo a limited Phase One treatment with some of the baby teeth still present. Some of these instances include severe crowding with no space for permanent teeth to erupt, jaw size discrepancies, and severe overbites or underbites.
The goal of Phase One treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. A lower jaw that is growing too much or an upper jaw that is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. If children over the age of seven are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of eight have overly crowded front teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.
Phase Two treatment begins when all of the permanent teeth have erupted. The purpose of Phase Two is to align the remaining permanent teeth that have erupted since the end of Phase One, as well as to correct the bite. Bite correction typically involves wearing elastics from lower braces to upper braces in a certain configuration that Dr. Wing prescribes. The duration of Phase Two is typically shorter than an average orthodontic treatment because Phase One aligned the front teeth and created space for the back permanent teeth to erupt.
What If We Don't Do Phase One Treatment?
If your child needs a limited Phase One treatment, putting off this treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may include extraction of permanent teeth and potential surgical procedures to realign the jaws. This may interfere with us achieving optimal results with your child's smile and/or bite.