For most of our orthodontic patients, treatment is a one-time thing. Sure, that one-time thing may last many months, but once treatment is done, it is over, and you can move on with your life—assuming you use your retainers. But some patients need treatment in two separate phases.
This is called two-phase treatment and it is used with children who present with significant orthodontic abnormalities around the age of seven. At this age, the back and side-to-side bites are established, making any severe issues clear. Because these children are young and have a lot of growing to do, doctors can correct these significant abnormalities using things like braces and expanders instead of surgery and tooth extraction.
Can Two-Phase Treatment Be Skipped When Recommended?
Can it? If the doctor recommends it, you certainly can decline. But should you? That is the better question.
Ultimately, doctors do not suggest this form of treatment unless they feel it is 100 percent needed. Their motivation is purely the health and wellbeing of the child. Once a child reaches the age of about 10-12, early intervention is no longer possible as there is not enough growth left. At that point, children who could have had two-phase treatment will instead need invasive surgeries, tooth extractions, and other more severe interventions.
What Can I Expect From Two-Phase Treatment?
The first phase will be at some point in later childhood prior to adolescence; many patients are treated at the age of 9. This phase will involve the use of braces to begin getting the teeth and jaw into the correct position, using this period of extreme growth as a way to push the results along quickly. The braces will be worn for somewhere between three and 16 months.
Next up is the resting period. At this time, no braces are used and the teeth are allowed to erupt. Chances are good that a bonded retainer will be worn during this time. The length of the resting period will depend on the needs of the individual child. During this time, we will monitor the progress of your child.
Finally, it is the second phase. During this time, braces are worn once again, usually for a period between 18 and 24 months. Once the braces are off, retainers are worn. Assuming all goes well, your child will have an amazing smile and no need for surgery or tooth extractions.