If you’ve seen Finding Nemo or The Fairly Odd Parents, you’ve seen some young characters with braces. You might have wondered if they were even old enough to be in orthodontics, but they are — we treat patients as young as seven!
You might have wondered if they were old enough to be orthodontic patients. The answer is yes! The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends children get their first check-up with an AAO orthodontist like Dr. JK Dillehay, around seven years old.
Fortunately, most young patients don’t need to begin orthodontic work when first evaluated, and some never will. But an early check-in with one of our skilled orthodontists sets your child up for success if they need our help!
If we determine your child needs orthodontic care sooner rather than later, we will likely suggest two-phase treatment. It’s the ideal way to address your child’s needs as they grow. If that sounds scary, don’t worry! It’s not!
What Is a Two-Phase Treatment?
As the name suggests, two-phase treatment is orthodontic care administered in two separate stages. Phase one typically starts when your child is still young and has some of their baby teeth. Phase two usually happens a few years later once your child has lost all their baby teeth and has grown in most, if not all, of their adult teeth.
Who Needs Two-Phase Treatment?
Not every child needs two-phase treatment! This customized treatment plan is reserved for children with oral healthcare needs and is not solely for cosmetic reasons.
At your child’s first appointment, our orthodontists do a thorough examination to look for many different orthodontic issues. Misalignment, tooth loss, spacing problems, tooth eruption, overbite, underbite, posterior bite, and anterior open or deep bites can all affect oral health.
If they find something concerning, starting treatment early can prevent a problem from developing, stop the progress of issues that have already begun, and give the jaw and teeth direction as your child grows.
What Are The Benefits?
Two-phase treatment can benefit you and your child in many ways. Here’s how:
Children’s bodies are still forming and developing, which is perfect for orthodontic treatment!
As your child grows, orthodontic care can become more complicated. Correcting a child’s still-developing bones is more manageable than when those bones have fully developed. A child could undergo simple treatment, such as braces, but an adult could need complex, invasive, and time-consuming treatments for the same issue.
Jaw Alignment Correction
Daily activities such as chewing, communication, and digestion are linked to how well a person’s jaw functions.
If your child is having difficulty chewing or biting, eating can quickly become an unpleasant experience for them. Eating should bring us joy, comfort, and satisfaction, not pain or frustration!
Incorrect jaw alignment can alter tongue posture, which could cause sleep apnea (even in children!) or other breathing issues and make talking very challenging. We want our youngsters to chatter away about their lives with ease, not struggle to get their words out to the world.
Improper jaw alignment also puts abnormal stress and wear on the jaw and teeth. Fixing this issue can prevent headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, migraines, and neck pain.
Easier Oral Hygiene Routine
Enamel is the protective coating on teeth, but it needs help staying strong and effective. Weakened enamel leaves teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay, gum disease, sensitivity, infection, and physical damage. An unclean mouth from poor oral hygiene could lead to complex, expensive, and uncomfortable problems later in life.
Properly aligned teeth have fewer hard-to-reach places. This simplifies removing bacteria, plaque, and germs that eat away at the enamel. If your child has misplaced teeth, oral hygiene can quickly become frustrating. We want it to be easy and rewarding for your child to develop healthy, consistent oral hygiene habits. Starting them off on the right foot decreases the likelihood of needing more complicated help as adults!
Reduced Risk Of Damaged Teeth
Overcrowded or overly spaced-out teeth (malocclusion) can grind and rub against each other. This friction can wear down the enamel and increase your child’s threat of cavities and other issues. Two-phase treatment fixes this malocclusion and creates space for incoming adult teeth to prevent further or future malocclusion.
Protruding teeth (teeth that stick out from the others) caused by natural growth or unhealthy habits like thumb-sucking are more likely to become chipped, broken, or experience injury. Two-phase treatment lessens the likelihood of dental trauma by aligning the teeth. We’ll also teach you and your child why certain habits are unhealthy for teeth and help you both learn ways to break those unwanted habits!
We love seeing the bright smiles of happy kids! But pain can cause children to smile, laugh, or talk less to reduce discomfort caused by moving the jaw, gum disease, or tooth sensitivity. Pain can also cause poor sleep, affecting brain function and communication skills. Chronic pain’s physical and emotional distress can lead to isolation, depression, and anxiety for even the toughest adult. We work hard to ensure pain isn’t affecting the enjoyment of those carefree childhood years!
Dillehay Orthodontics Can Help Determine If Two-Phase Treatment Is Right For Your Family!
Hearing that your child might need orthodontic care at an early age can be intimidating. Fortunately, we’re experts at providing early assessment and intervention to identify any issues early, which is crucial for quick and successful treatment.
We look forward to meeting you and providing your family with the high-quality care they deserve!