The concept of orthodontic treatment occurring in two separate phases is increasing in popularity. You may wonder why this has become common, instead of treatment in the past being one set of braces usually during the teen years. Every case is different and your orthodontist will recommend the best course of action, but there are some reasons that two-phased orthodontic treatment makes sense for some patients.
Two-phased orthodontics uses a specialized process that focuses on straightening teeth along with physical changes that occur during growth. It maximizes the ability to obtain attractive, healthy, and functional results that will last. This is not the case for patients with jaw issues who wait until all permanent teeth are fully erupted, which can result in unstable or compromised outcomes. Certain issues specific to the teeth also may warrant early intervention.
The first phase of treatment focuses on creating the ideal jaw size to accommodate permanent teeth and jaw growth. It is common for jaw problems to occur as children develop, allowing a perfect situation for early orthodontic treatment. This enables a good foundation to be established that provides sufficient room for adult teeth. Often, early orthodontics avoids procedures like tooth extractions later. Phase one of treatment varies in duration and types of appliances based on each patient’s condition.
After phase one is complete, there is a resting period is which permanent teeth erupt and jaw growth continues. Initial treatment should have created room for new teeth to erupt without becoming impacted or significantly misplaced. Occasional checkups are warranted to monitor progress during the resting phase.
Phase two of treatment may or may not be necessary based on the location of teeth and how the jaws, lips, and other features fit together. If the teeth are functioning properly and aesthetically appealing, treatment can be considered complete. However, if more correction is advised to create a more attractive or fully functional smile, then braces may be placed on the teeth for an average of 24 months. Afterwards, retainers will be fitted to maintain the correction until the orthodontist is confident that treatment is complete.