There are a few orthodontic conditions that would benefit from early intervention, especially those related to jaw growth and bite problems. These conditions include guiding jaw growth associated to crossbites or severe overbites and underbites; lowering the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth; and correcting harmful oral habits. Early loss of primary (baby) teeth and severe crowding of erupting permanent teeth are other cases where early treatment is indicated.
Dr. Blacker carefully selects those children who meet the criteria for early or Phase I treatment. He customizes all patients’ plans to their individual needs and waits for the optimal time for each individual to begin treatment.
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a very specialized process that encompasses tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The major advantage of a two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your life.
For someone with a jaw discrepancy, the disadvantage of waiting for complete eruption of permanent teeth and having only one phase of treatment is facing the possibility of a compromised result that may not be stable.
The goal of Phase I treatment is to develop the jaw size in order to accommodate all the permanent teeth and to relate the upper and lower jaws to each other or to eliminate harmful oral habits. Because they are growing rapidly, children who need early intervention can benefit enormously from utilizing appliances that direct the growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws. Thus, a good foundation can be established, providing adequate room for eruption of all permanent teeth. This early correction may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws. Phase I treatment usually lasts between 12 and 18 months.
At the end of Phase I treatment, all teeth are not in their final positions. The patient enters a resting phase while the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. Retaining devices are usually recommended to maintain the early correction. Monitoring of retainers and tooth eruption are accomplished with regular observation appointments. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Once the permanent teeth have erupted sufficiently, Dr. Blacker will determine if Phase II treatment is indicated.
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. The second phase is initiated when the permanent teeth have erupted sufficiently, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 18 to 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you maintain your beautiful smile for a lifetime.