The American Association of Orthodontists’ recommends that all children are screened by age 7! This is because some common malocclusions of the teeth (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed) and the jaw may be reduced while the bones of the mouth and face are still developing. Remember many females are finished growing around the time their second molars are in place so it is important to act early!
The first phase of two-phase orthodontic treatment begins ideally after all four of the permanent first molars and all four of the permanent front incisors have erupted into the mouth. Braces are placed on the teeth and some times a growth modification device such as an expander, habit appliance, functional appliance or headgear is also utilized. Once the first phase is complete, retainers may be used to maintain the results until the second phase is started.
Between the first and second phase of treatment, patients are monitored at a regular interval during the ‘resting phase’. The orthodontist will check the condition of the retainers and the loss of baby teeth. Digital x-rays may be utilized to check on the developing permanent teeth.
Ideally, the second phase of treatment will begin after the last primary tooth is lost and about the same time the 12-year-molars erupt in the back of the mouth. Treatment may begin earlier or later if needed. Please remember that all children develop differently and treatment will be customized to meet each child’s specific needs.
When indicated, early treatment allows the orthodontist to achieve results that couldn’t be achieved with single treatment. Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment, such as extractions or surgery, later in life.