Are your child’s teeth starting to look crooked? Perhaps you’ve noticed a few spaces in their smile. You might find it’s time to consider children’s braces.

About four million people in North America that are younger than 18 wear braces. Four out of every five patients with braces are minors. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends your child visit an orthodontist by age seven.

Beginning treatment for phase 1 pediatric orthodontists can improve the appearance of your child’s smile. That’s only the start.

What phase 1 orthodontics are available, and how can treatment benefit your child? Keep reading to find out. After reading this guide, you can determine if it’s time to start your child’s treatment plan.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about phase 1 orthodontics today. 

What is Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment?

First, let’s cover the basics. What exactly is phase 1 orthodontics?

Phase 1 pediatric orthodontic treatment is also called early interceptive treatment. It’s a procedure scheduled before all of your child’s permanent teeth erupt. Usually, interceptive treatment begins when your child is between the ages of six and 10. 

An orthodontist might recommend phase 1 orthodontics if there’s a chance your child will develop a moderate or severe orthodontic problem. In some cases, your orthodontist will recommend that your child doesn’t wait to begin treatment.

Otherwise, alignment or bite issues could impact your child’s oral health and quality of life.

Usually, phase 1 treatment isn’t recommended unless the orthodontist is certain treatment will make a significant difference. 

The Goal

The main goal of phase 1 orthodontics is to ensure there’s enough space for your child’s permanent teeth to grow in. Otherwise, there’s a likely risk of overcrowding. Overcrowding can cause crooked teeth. 

Treating the bite growth and jaw early on can help your child avoid issues like an underbite or crossbite. 

If your child’s jaw hasn’t reached the desired level, they could benefit from early orthodontic treatment. Corrective treatment could help:

  • Minimize the chances of dental trauma
  • Reduce the need for permanent tooth removal
  • Help your child avoid jaw surgery

If you wait too long to treat dental issues, it’s more likely your child will need braces in the future.

Your child will require phase 1 treatment for about nine to 18 months. Then, they’ll wear retainers. They need appointments every four months as their remaining teeth erupt. 

Orthodontic Therapies Used in Phase 1

You can schedule a consultation appointment at your child’s pediatric orthodontics practice to review their treatment options. Their orthodontist will determine which orthodontic therapies suit their needs.

For example, the orthodontist might recommend spacers. These rubber or metal devices can maintain space in your child’s jaw. Spacers help ensure adult teeth can develop properly.

Your child might need a retainer instead. Retainers are clear plastic appliances that fit over your child’s teeth. Retainers can help your child’s teeth remain straight. 

Other treatments include:

  • Braces
  • Specialized retainers
  • Limited phase braces for select teeth
  • Headgear
  • Functional appliances
  • Expansion appliances
  • Space maintainers

During a consultation appointment, the orthodontist will review the state of your child’s teeth. They’ll determine what problems might occur. During appointments, they’ll check your child’s tooth health, alignment, and other factors related to growth. 

Remember, catching these problems can help your child avoid future complications.

For example, your child could develop:

  • Unwanted gaps between their teeth
  • Issues pronouncing certain words
  • Overbites or underbites
  • Crooked, twisted, or crowded teeth
  • Teeth clenching/grinding (bruxism)
  • Jaws that click when closing or opening their mouth 

Braces cost about $5,000 for families with insurance. Consider scheduling a consultation with your child’s orthodontist. They can help you get a more accurate estimate. 

Signs Your Child Needs Phase 1 Treatment

If you’re not sure if your child is a candidate for pediatric orthodontics, pay attention to their smile and habits. For example, you might notice:

  • A finger- or thumb-sucking habit
  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Large spaces between teeth
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Extra or missing teeth
  • Severe crowding
  • Speech difficulties
  • Mouth breathing when they sleep
  • A crossbite or underbite
  • Upper teeth that protrude forward

If these issues sound familiar, schedule a consultation to discuss phase 1 braces with an orthodontist. 

Make sure to find an orthodontist with years of experience. Find a pediatric specialist with experience providing phase 1 braces, too. Their experience and expertise will ensure the best possible results for your child. 

The Benefits

Starting phase 1 orthodontic treatment can help reduce the duration of regular treatment in the future. Other benefits of phase 1 orthodontics include:

  • Reduciing risk of sleep apnea
  • Eliminating crowding issues
  • Reducing/eliminating the need to extract permanent teeth
  • Widening your child’s smile
  • Creating facial symmetry
  • Guiding the growth of your child’s jaw
  • Ensuring top and bottom teeth fit together correctly

Your child’s orthodontist will review the state of their smile to help you determine what benefits they’ll experience from treatment. 

Signs Your Child Needs Phase 2 Orthodontics

It’s possible your child will require phase 2 orthodontics instead. Phase two treatment involves placing braces on your child’s lower and upper teeth 

Children’s braces can help correct spaces or misalignments. They can also help correct an underbite or overbite.

Most children begin phase 2 treatment around the age of 11 or 12. Treatment can last between a year and 20 months. However, every case is different. 

Your child might require treatment longer for more extensive alignment or spacing issues.

Usually, orthodontists will only begin phase 2 treatment if your child’s adult teeth are coming in. This stage focuses on improving the appearance and functionality of your child’s smile.

Your child’s gums and jaws are still malleable at this stage, making it an ideal time for treatment. You can improve any orthodontic concerns before they become more extensive. 

If you’re unsure whether your child requires phase 1 or 2 treatment, visit their orthodontist. Your orthodontist will help you develop a customized treatment plan based on your child’s unique needs. 

Straighter Smiles: Help Your Child With Phase 1 Pediatric Orthodontics

Help your child wear their best smile! Consider these benefits of phase 1 pediatric orthodontics before consulting an orthodontist. Beginning treatment right away can help them avoid complications later in life.

Instead, they can wear their straight smile feeling confident in their appearance. 

Want to learn more? Book your complimentary consultation appointment today.