Two-Phase braces: Why your kid might need them twice

Most teenagers and adults who get braces treatment only get them one time. That’s not always the case for children. Dental problems can be spotted pretty early, thanks to today’s scanning and X-ray technology. Orthodontists may want to start treatment early before all of the permanent teeth are in, then continue treatment later once the baby teeth are gone. It’s called Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment. Is that necessary? Does it help your child to get braces twice?

We’ve heard these questions before from parents who bring their children to Hodges Orthodontics for treatment. At first, it seems odd to do braces treatment in two phases. It actually helps your child spend less time overall in braces treatment by heading off major dental issues before they can fully manifest. It may seem complicated, but it isn’t as complicated as you may think. In the end, it means your child will have less pain, fewer bite problems, and better oral and overall health with their braces treatment.

What is Two-Phase braces treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that a child see an orthodontist by age 7. The orthodontist will be able to tell whether their teeth will come in as they should or whether they have or will develop dental issues. Some children may already have dental issues from genetics to extended time sucking their thumb. But they also will still have many of their baby teeth. This is where two-phase orthodontics comes in.

Your child’s orthodontist may recommend braces treatment in two phases. Phase 1 usually happens as the baby teeth are falling out and the permanent teeth are coming in. The doctor may see that there isn’t enough space for the permanent teeth to come in, leading to crooked teeth. He may suggest braces or special appliances to make room for the permanent teeth. This is the Phase 1 braces. Usually, they’re worn for a lot less time than standard braces, 9-12 months.

Phase 2 braces come later, once the permanent teeth have come in. The second phase of braces corrects any dental problems that have arisen from the eruption of the permanent teeth. Again, they’re usually worn for much less time than normal.

Two-Phase braces are designed to help prevent your child from developing major dental problems that could cause problems with their oral health and overall health. A severe bad bite can cause jaw pain, headaches, neck aches, and even digestive and nutrition issues because the food isn’t chewed properly. We know you don’t want your child to go through that, and we don’t either. That’s when we recommend Two-Phase braces treatment.

Phase 1 orthodontic treatment

Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment is also called Phase 1 Braces Treatment, though it may not always include braces. Often, it can include appliances to prepare your child’s mouth for braces in the second phase. For example, if your child’s palate (roof of the mouth) is too narrow, there won’t be room enough for the larger permanent teeth to come in once the baby teeth have fallen out.

The orthodontist will install a palate expander to widen the palate and allow more room for the teeth to come in properly. Other treatments could include spacers to allow room for permanent teeth, devices to prevent thumbsucking, and even partial braces on a few teeth to prepare for full braces later.

Phase 1 braces treatment can improve crossbites and underbites that may be forming, and that would cause more problems later. Early treatment can correct problems with the growth of your child’s jaw, preventing more intense treatment later, including tooth removal and jaw surgery.

Phase 2 orthodontic treatment

Phase 2 braces usually happen several years after phase 1 treatment, about ages 11 or 12. This is when your child likely will get full braces or clear aligners and will wear them for an average of 12-20 months, depending on how much needs to be corrected. Phase 2 treatment is used to correct crooked teeth, an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or other dental issues.

Why Two-Phase orthodontics?

Not every child will need two-phase treatment. Why would your child need Phase 1 and Phase 2 braces? This treatment is mainly used for cases that could become severe later. Some of the signs that a child might need two-phase treatment include:

  • Early biting or chewing issues
  • Losing baby teeth early
  • Evidence of a crossbite
  • Thumbsucking after age 3
  • Crowded teeth by age 7
  • Protruding teeth

Will your child need two-phase treatment? It will be hard to tell without a full examination. When you visit Hodges Orthodontics, we will use our 3D digital scanning technology and x-ray technology to see how your child’s jaws are developing and whether they will need help developing properly. Two-phase treatment can create a strong foundation for your child to get an amazing smile that will last a lifetime!

Two-Phase braces treatment in Tupelo, MS

If you’re in the Tupelo or Pontotoc, MS, areas, you can find out more about two-phase treatment and whether it would benefit your child by visiting Hodges Orthodontics. We will be able to tell whether a two-phase treatment is right for your child or if traditional braces treatment will work later. We can also tell you whether your child will need braces at all.

We know you want the best for your child’s oral and overall health, and two-phase orthodontic treatment may be the best way to ensure your child has a great smile and a pain-free bite.