Treatment for children is also known as Phase I orthodontic treatment. The purpose of this phase is to detect, prevent and treat any problems early enough before they develop into a more severe complication. For example, due to the growth potential of the jaws at this age, mild to moderate skeletal problems are easier to manage than later on in life. Potentially severe dental issues that require pulling permanent teeth in the future may be easily prevented by a few simple steps in phase I. Minor tooth movement is not the main focus of this type of treatment unless otherwise requested by parents.

Early or Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment for Kids

Facts

  • American Association of Orthodontics recommends all children have their first orthodontic screening at age 7.
  • Not every child needs phase I treatment.
  • During our free consulatation, Dr. Amin and Dr. Vaziri will diagnose and advise if your child needs early orthodontic intervention or it’s better to wait and perform adolescent treatment later.
  • If necessary, phase I is usually performed on children between 7-10 years of age.
  • At this age, children are in a transition between their baby teeth and permanent teeth.
  • Phase I treatment usually takes between 6-12 months.
  • Some phase I patients will reaquire a second phase of treatment during their teen years.

Space Maintenance

One of the functions of the baby teeth is to hold the space for future adult teeth. By losing the baby teeth prematurely; the space needed for the permanent teeth will be lost. The permanent successor tooth will either erupt ectopically (in the wrong place) or it won’t even have a chance to erupt and become rooted in the bone. Following the loss of the baby tooth, if the available space is sufficient for the future permanent teeth, it’s wise to hold the space open by maintaining adjacent teeth in their place. There are different appliances that can serve the purpose of space maintenance. The following are what we use at AvA Orthodontics.

Nance: Used for the upper teeth.

Space Maintainer – Nance

Lingual Arch: Used for the lower teeth.

Space Maintainer – Lingual Arch

Pendex Device

Space Regaining

If the space available is insufficient for the future permanent tooth, due to the lack of space management or any other reasons, Dr. Amin Movahhedian and Dr. Hamed Vaziri may need to gain the space back by either putting a limited number of braces for a short time or by using specialized appliances. The pendulum is one of the few appliances used for this purpose.

Harmful Habits

Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting habits are quite common amongst young kids. These habits are extremely harmful if not stopped by age 7. Continuation of the habit after age 7 can cause severe malformation of the jaws and the teeth. Open space between upper and lower front teeth, also known as an open bite is one of the consequences of the thumb sucking habit.

Orthodontic intervention will have satisfactory results in stopping the habit and reverting any damages. However, if left untreated until the teenage years, it can become a very complex surgical orthodontic treatment.

Tongue Thrusting Habit

2×4 Braces

Crowding & Spacing

There is either not enough room or too much room for all of the permanent teeth to fit in the mouth nicely. For severe crowding, permanent teeth may erupt in an irregular sequence or become impacted in the bone, causing damage to the roots of the adjacent teeth. Often, limited orthodontic treatment with braces will be helpful.

Serial Extraction

Sequential removal of some baby and permanent teeth over several years. It is performed when there is a severe lack of space for all of the teeth to erupt in the mouth. The extraction sequence is the removal of baby canines (which allows the front teeth to align naturally), the removal of first baby molars (which facilitates the eruption of the first permanent premolars), and the first premolars removed upon eruption in order to open space for the remaining permanent teeth.

Serial Extraction

Crossbite AKA Underbite

Underbite

Also known as anterior crossbite, an underbite is when upper front teeth are behind the lower front teeth. It’s usually a sign of skeletal discrepancy. This condition needs to be addressed early in phase I treatment.

Missing or Extra Teeth

Missing teeth are typically when one or more permanent teeth never form in the mouth. Early orthodontist supervision will be important to plan for closing the space or maintaining it open. 

Extra teeth are not expected to be in the mouth or to be found on the x-ray image. Their presence can deviate the path of eruption of other permanent teeth or prevent their eruption completely. Finding and removing the extra teeth early enough may prevent all of the side effects.

Narrow Bite

Also known as a posterior crossbite. Normally upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. If the upper jaw is more narrow than the lower jaw, the overlap will be opposite and lower teeth will overlap the upper. It can happen on one side only or both sides. Dr. Amin and Dr. Vaziri will address this problem during Phase I by an absolutely painless treatment called palatal expansion.

RPE – Hyrax Type

Social Concerns

You may notice that your child does not smile that often due to peer pressure for having misaligned teeth. This can be a good enough reason for a Phase I orthodontic treatment to boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem.