When is the Right Time?
Two-Phase Orthodontics (early interceptive treatment)
There are times that children exhibit signs of crowding teeth or jaw problems as they are growing. Jaws may grow too much or too little. Sometimes they may be much too narrow or wide. These children (over the age of 4) may be excellent candidates for early orthodontic care. These patients account for approximately 12% of our practice.
Because children are growing at a rapid rate, appliances can be utilized to guide growth to improve the jaw and teeth alignment. Most often it is simply creating enough room to have all the permanent teeth erupt without the need for extractions. With some cases, if this early care is not provided, corrections may involve more comprehensive resolutions.
Early treatment may decrease the treatment time required for the second phase. Often, at the end of the first phase, the teeth are not in their final position, as this will be accomplished during the second phase. The primary goal of the first phase is to develop a solid foundation for the teeth. Periodic recall appointments are set in order to check the progression of jaw growth and permanent tooth eruption.
Second-phase treatment most often consists of straightforward orthodontic therapy that will accomplish the final alignment of the teeth.
The major advantage of two-phase therapy is to maximize the opportunity to guide jaw growth and tooth eruption. Optimizing the treatment with the correct timing of the child’s growth and development is of utmost importance in these cases.
The main disadvantage of waiting for permanent tooth eruption is a final result that may not be functionally healthy or stable. Tooth extraction or corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) may be required as well.
Most children, approximately 88%, mature into adolescence with acceptable jaw growth and development. These young people do not need interceptive orthodontic guidance to have a solid foundation for the permanent teeth be straight and healthy. At the same time 70% of these adolescents do need some degree of orthodontic care, some for cosmetic reasons while others have functional concerns.
We believe that either second-phase or single-phase orthodontics should be the only time in a patient�s life they wear braces. The bite is the single most common reason that teeth do not stay aligned after orthodontic care. To accomplish this goal, Dr. Nelson takes great care to ensure the teeth are not only straight but the bite functions correctly. A good bite will produce an attractive smile, but attractive smiles will not necessarily accompany a good bite.
Appliance therapy is a catch-all term. It includes palatal expansion in preadolescence or early adolescence, as well as appliances to assist with habits such as thumb sucking.
Approximately 40%, of our practice is made up of adult patients seeking optimum smile esthetics, improved oral health, decrease in the rate of tooth wear, preparatory tooth repositioning for replacement of a missing tooth, or resolution of annoying TMJ (jaw joint) pain of chewing problems.
Adult orthodontics is not unlike single-phase orthodontics for adolescence; adult teeth move as well, thus the benefits of orthodontic care are truly available at any age. The difference is that adults often have worn or missing teeth. Worn and missing teeth complicate the issue as treatment becomes multi-disciplinary to include the family dentist, possibly a periodontist and occasionally an oral surgeon. Dr. Briggs & Dr. Nelson are a well versed in all aspects of adult needs.
Another section of treatment that is usually for adults is limited treatment. Limited treatment is the repositioning of a few teeth or even only one to better assist the general dentist in restorative work.
No matter the age, no two patients are alike. Each patient requires and deserves an individualized treatment plan. Comprehensive evaluation is distilled into the best overall plan for that patient. Our office has the equipment, training and expertise to provide the best treatment planning for a patient of any age.