Two-Phase Treatment

What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process combining tooth straightening and sometimes (if needed) physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, and aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your life.

What if I put off treatment?

Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your smile. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results. But, not all patients need 2 phases. Dr. Ritter is conservative about Phase I treatment. She likes to help parents understand the difference between who really "needs" two phases, versus those that really just need one phase.  Her goal at that first appointment is to educate a parent on whether their child needs Phase I treatment and how they can benefit from it. In some cases, two phase treatment is not needed, and in those cases Dr. Ritter will guide a family on best timing of treatment and she will keep an eye on the patient over time until treatment is needed. 

Phase One

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that patients see an Orthodontist as early as age 7 years. This seems young, but there is a reason for this. At this young age, permanent teeth are beginning to erupt. This is the age that we can determine crowding, true bite problems and whether the bite problems are only of dental nature or whether they are of a skeletal nature. If there are problems with the size of the jaws, treating a child earlier is easier and more effective. These are the patients who can really benefit from early treatment. In addition, if it's found that a child has severe crowding, early treatment plans can help start the process of making more room. 

  • Planning now can save your smile later

    Children benefit tremendously from early-phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.

  • Making records to determine your unique treatment

    Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs. During your child's initial consultation, your doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary. Dr. Ritter only uses digital radiography to limit radiation exposure.

Resting Period

In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.

  • Monitoring your teeth's progress

    At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

Phase Two

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. Phase Two usually involves full upper and lower braces.

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan was established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you retain your beautiful smile.

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