Your child’s crooked little toothy smile can look cute now, but what about when they get older? It’s estimated that only 35% of adults have a correctly aligned smile. Early intervention can help guide how your child’s teeth align as they grow, giving them a better chance of avoiding braces and having a straight, even smile when they get older.
At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman evaluates your child’s mouth, jaw, and teeth, and explains how and why Phase 1 early intervention could be their best option.
The two phases of early orthodontic intervention
The basic difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2 intervention is timing, based on when your child starts getting permanent teeth.
Phase 1 treatment is appropriate when your child still has baby teeth, letting us address alignment issues in their earliest stages (before they impact your child’s unerupted adult teeth).
The American Orthodontist Association recommends an initial appointment with an orthodontist when children are seven years old, which is a perfect time to discuss Phase 1 if you’ve noticed crowded or jutting baby teeth.
Based on our findings, we usually start Phase 1 treatments before your child reaches 10 years of age. Phase 1 intervention focuses on gently repositioning your child’s teeth to allow the necessary space for their permanent teeth to erupt when the time comes.
The best thing about Phase 1 early intervention is that it can limit or even eliminate the need for Phase 2 treatment.
Phase 2 intervention starts after your child has all of their permanent teeth. This phase typically includes traditional braces or clear aligners, retainers, and other treatments to reposition teeth and treat malocclusion.
If you’re thinking ‘Why should I have Phase 1 intervention for my child if they’ll still need braces?’, here’s why: Phase 1 treatment provides a stronger chance for successful, long-term results. This approach sets your child up for smile success and can also boost their confidence in their early school years.
If your child has already undergone Phase 1 early orthodontic intervention, they may not need Phase 2 treatment. Alternatively, they might require mild-to-moderate treatment to complete the work started during Phase 1 and to account for changes in your child’s jaw as they grow.
Common early orthodontic treatment options
Dr. Chapman discusses your child’s specific challenges with you and helps you decide which option is best for them. We offer:
The Penguin appliance
You may have heard of this referred to as “invisible headgear.” It adheres to your child’s overcrowded primary molars and adjusts them gently to make room for permanent teeth. Most children only need to wear a Penguin appliance for 3-4 months.
The T-Rex appliance
This appliance also adjusts molars to make room for adult teeth, this time by fitting against the roof of their mouth and attaching to their molars. It helps widen the upper jaw as well, and is typically worn for 12 months or less.
The palate expander or D-gainer appliance
If your child has a very narrow palate that’s causing overcrowding, these appliances can help widen the upper palate and make room for the adult teeth that will need more space to erupt evenly.
Are you ready to discuss your child’s smile? Dr. Chapman can help determine what early orthodontic intervention plan is best for their specific case. To schedule a consultation, call ChapmanSmiles at 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online.