Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Two-phase treatment occurs when a patient is evaluated and needs intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment plans.
The first phase of treatment, Phase I, usually occurs when the patient is a child and still has his or her primary teeth. The Phase I treatment plan can include preventive, interceptive or modifying treatment.
Typically, Phase II treatment is normal orthodontic treatment. This involves placing braces on the patient once his or her permanent teeth have erupted. The braces straighten the permanent teeth and finish correctly aligning the patient’s jaw.
Patients who have undergone both Phase I and Phase II treatment are more likely to have lasting results. Our goal for your two-phase orthodontic treatment is to give you correctly aligned teeth that provide ideal jaw function and a great smile!
Orthodontic appliances may be placed to prevent a problem from occurring, correct a current problem or help direct jawbone growth. Multiple problems with tooth alignment, gums, jaws and facial problems can be corrected with Phase I treatment. Another common added benefit of Phase I treatment is less Phase II treatment time.
The upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, which may cause tooth stratification and misaligned jaw growth.
According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:
▪ Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may
tooth decay and/or gum disease.
▪ Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
▪ Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
▪ Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.