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phase 1 or early orthodontic treatment

Phase 1 or Early Orthodontic treatment is orthodontic treatment started before all the adult teeth are in and while baby teeth are still present, usually ages 6-10. There is no rule that says all baby teeth need to be out before having your child see your orthodontist. In fact, waiting to begin orthodontic treatment until all the baby teeth are out may end up causing severe dental problems leading to unnecessary and expensive tooth extractions and surgery later. That is why Dr. Knapp and the American Association of Orthodontists recommend an orthodontic evaluation for each child before age 8. At Knapp Orthodontics our free orthodontic evaluations are easy to schedule and reserve time for you to discuss with Dr. Knapp your child’s overall dental and facial growth and development.

Does my child need Phase 1 or Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Deciding whether or not your child needs phase 1 or early orthodontic treatment can only be evaluated and discussed during a consult with your orthodontist. During this consult, the orthodontist will take diagnostic records which consists of: 2 films, a series of photos, and an exam. At Knapp Orthodontics, Dr. Knapp sits down and reviews these films, photos, and findings with your family. As always, we at Knapp Orthodontics provide phase 1 or early treatment consults free of charge. We want to provide our families with the peace of mind that their child’s dental and facial growth and development is on track.

The 3 benefits of Phase 1 or Early Orthodontic Treatment

The overall purpose of phase 1 or early orthodontic treatment is to: (1) prevent the need for tooth extractions, (2) prevent the need for surgery, and (3) promote healthy breathing.

The most common orthodontic appliance used during phase 1 or early orthodontic treatment is the rapid palatal expander. Rapid palatal expanders can go by a few different names: RPE, expander, spacer, etc. The purpose of the expander is to (1) prevent the need for tooth extraction by creating space for the erupting adult teeth and correcting a crowding problem, (2) prevent the need for surgery by correcting a skeletal problem such as a crossbite, and / or (3) increase the volume of the nasal capacity for healthy breathing.

At a young age, 6-10, the upper jaw bone of children is not yet fused together allowing the expander to correct the crowding, skeletal, or breathing problem quickly and easily. Crowding and skeletal problems that go undiagnosed and untreated require tooth extractions and surgery later in life to correct. We also know how important healthy breathing is at night while sleeping. A good night’s sleep leads to more attentive and productive days not only for adults, but even more importantly for children.

Will my child require a Phase 2 of Braces later?

Between Phase 1 and Phase 2 orthodontic treatment, your child will continue to grow and lose their remaining baby teeth. During these few 1-3 years (ages 10-12) your child will likely have a retainer that is worn nightly. This transitional retainer will allow the baby teeth to come out and the adult teeth to come in. Once all the adult teeth are in, your orthodontist will be able to evaluate if your child will benefit from a phase 2 of orthodontic treatment. This is where accomplishing the phase 1 treatment really pays off, as your child will be in phase 2 treatment for a much shorter time and be able to accomplish a perfect smile and bite without lengthy and expensive tooth extractions or surgery.

What to expect at my child’s first visit

Some kids are super excited to be visiting the orthodontist and some are not. At Knapp Orthodontics our team takes the time to ensure your child knows they are in a safe place. You can assure your child that at their first visit we will simply be taking pictures. If your child is more comfortable with you by their side, we are happy to have you join them in our state-of-the-art clinic.

If your child is coming up on age 8 and they have not seen an orthodontist, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation. Reviewing your child’s films and photos with Dr. Knapp will not only start your child on a path to a beautiful smile, but also provide the piece of mind that their overall growth and development is on track.

start smiling

Schedule your child’s free Phase 1 or early orthodontic treatment consultation with Dr. Knapp to begin their journey to a beautiful smile and healthy bite. We’ll cover all their options, go into detail of the advantages and disadvantages of phase 1 or early orthodontic treatment, discuss total time in treatment, and most importantly answer all questions about getting their perfect smile!

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