Does Your Child Need Phase 1 Orthodontics?

It is truly amazing what a course of Phase 1 orthodontics can do for a smile. Teeth that have erupted in truly unusual places in the mouth, in spots completely out of sync with the rest of the teeth, can be fitted with brackets and wires and shifted slowly but surely into a straight smile. However, there are some circumstances where early dentition problems need more treatment than braces alone – and in cases like this, Phase 1 orthodontics are the best solution.

How to Qualify for Phase 1 Orthodontics

Only your Lawrenceville orthodontists can determine if your child needs Phase 1 orthodontics, also known as interceptive orthodontics. An exam is conducted, ideally by age 7 and no later than age 9 or 10, to review what’s happening in a child’s mouth. Here’s why:

  • During these ages kids have mixed dentition, when there are some baby teeth remaining and some adult teeth have erupted.
  • Whatever is going on in the mouth, there is enough happening for an orthodontist to recognize where teeth will go with or without treatment.
  • 3D digital imaging and x-rays offer information about crowding below the gumline – your child’s teeth might look just fine as-is, but there could be serious problems getting ready to show up.
  • The earlier an orthodontic problem is recognized, the sooner it can be treated. Getting Phase 1 care in elementary school means a child can have developing issues managed and contained and their mouth prepped, in some cases, for Phase 2 orthodontics when they reach the tween or teen years.

Phase 1 Orthodontic Appliances

There are different treatments your Lawrenceville orthodontist may utilize during Phase 1 orthodontics, depending on a patient’s unique misalignment, crowding, or eruption problems. The two most common are a palatal expander and the MARA appliance.

Also referred to as rapid palatal expansion (RPE), treatment by an expander typically takes 9 to 12 months and moves the top palate of the mouth apart while it is soft and malleable – hence the importance of seeing an orthodontist when kids are young and growing. This appliance moves the front teeth apart.

The space created by the expander after just a few weeks is closed with several months of minimal braces and wires on the front teeth. Eventually, a permanent retainer is issued or affixed to the back of the teeth and, once all baby teeth have fallen out, a course of conventional orthodontics corrects the functionality of the bite and teeth alignment.

The MARA appliance is a fixed appliance that moves the patient’s lower jaw forward so the top and bottom teeth meet. This movement corrects a severe overbite while ideally eliminating the need for any future oral surgery. Features like protruding teeth and a narrow smile can be treated over 10 to 15 months. The MARA is worn around ages 10 to 12 for girls and 11 to 13 for boys and followed by treatment with conventional braces for a fully aligned, healthy smile.

Get Early Braces for Your Child

Terms like “interceptive” and “Phase 1” sound daunting, but they’re some of the best things that have occurred in modern orthodontics, fixing kids’ developing smiles without surgery or extraction. Find out whether your child qualifies for early braces. Contact Drs. Roberts & de Marsche at Lawrenceville Orthodontics for a consultation.