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Early Treatment

Early Treatment

Early Treatment (Phase 1)

Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child first visit an orthodontist by their seventh birthday? This might seem early, but there’s a good reason for it. At this age, the first adult teeth have already started to erupt, and certain serious jaw and bite issues can be spotted as they develop. More importantly, these problems can also be treated more effectively and easily when a child’s jaw is still growing and their skeletal structure is not fused.

What Issues Can Phase 1 Orthodontics Address?

Common problems that may call for Phase 1 treatment include crossbites, underbites, severe tooth crowding, seriously protruding front teeth, or deep overbites. We take a conservative approach to recommending early treatment—in fact, it’s rare for young children to need it. When we do advise Phase 1 treatment, it is because we know that catching a problem early will avoid bigger problems and longer, more complex interventions later.

What Does Early Treatment Involve?

The specifics of Phase 1 treatment are different for each patient, depending on the exact problem and its severity. It may involve a fixed appliance such as a palate expander, a removable appliance such as a retainer, and/or braces on selected teeth. Typically, this phase of treatment lasts 12 months or less.

What Are the Benefits of Phase 1 Treatment?

Early interceptive treatment can help avoid future problems by creating room for adult teeth to erupt properly and normalizing the relationship of the upper and lower jaw. In the process, you can greatly reduce the chance that difficult and complicated future treatment, such as dental extractions or jaw surgery, will be needed.

What Can We Expect from Early Treatment?

Phase 1 treatment is designed to eliminate significant dental and skeletal problems early, clearing the way for normal development while the rest of your child’s adult teeth are erupting. After Phase 1, your child will have a resting period while those teeth come in. In most cases, our patients will also need Phase 2 treatment in adolescence to make sure their teeth are in the proper place for good function, a healthy bite, and a beautiful smile. However, Phase 1 treatment will reduce the complexity of treatment overall and provide more stable long-term results.

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Patient A presents with both posterior and anterior crossbites – basically her upper arch is narrow and set back compared to her lower arch. Not only are her arches not coordinating but she also has severe crowding on her upper arch. For her Phase I treatment we expanded the upper arch, brought it forward into its proper position then used partial upper and lower braces to align the teeth with the new space gained. This treatment was a short 12 months and saved the patient from jaw surgery when older.

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Patient B presents with a narrow, constricted and crowded upper arch. The arch became this way because of a thumb sucking habit the patient was having a hard time stopping. For his Phase I treatment we expanded the upper arch, used the expander as a distraction to discontinue his habit and placed partial upper braces to align the upper front teeth with the new space gained. This treatment was 12 short months, stopped the patient’s habit which was causing the issue and saved the patient from jaw surgery when older. 

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Patient C presents with narrow, constricted and crowded upper and lower arches. The patient’s arches present this way due to early loss of baby teeth and genetics. For her Phase I treatment we expanded the upper arch and used upper and lower partial braces to create space. This treatment was 15 months and saved the patient not only from extraction treatment in the future but also possible jaw surgery. 

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Patient D presents with both an advanced and narrow upper arch and flared upper anterior teeth. For his Phase I treatment we used an upper expander, a cervical pull headgear and partial upper braces. This treatment not only brought the entire upper jaw back and allowed the lower jaw to grow forward, but the upper jaw was reshaped and the upper spaces were closed and teeth were aligned. This treatment was less than a 12 months and saved this patient from extraction treatment and possible jaw surgery in the future.

The Right Treatment at the Right Time

An early exam can help identify emerging orthodontic problems and give you the opportunity to fix them before they become more serious. At B Orthodontics, we offer a complimentary consultation to help our youngest patients have their best chance at the perfect smile they deserve. Contact us today to schedule your child’s free exam.