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What is the Two-Phase Treatment to Childhood Malocclusion?

What is the Two-Phase Treatment to Childhood Malocclusion?

Malocclusion isn’t something you can really predict. Sure, you might know the risk factors, but not when it will happen. And in young kids, that first tooth doesn’t give too much away either. It’s because of this that more parents are considering early orthodontic treatment, particularly the two-phase approach. But what is the two-phase treatment to childhood malocclusion?

When it comes to a malocclusion—which means “bad bite;” a fitting name for misaligned teeth—braces are the first type of treatment that comes to mind. Other parents, however, might be a little wary of this. This is true for parents of young children. To alleviate these worries, some orthodontists might suggest an oral appliance during the first few stages of treatment. After some time, they can graduate their patients to actual braces. And hopefully, those patients are at a more acceptable age for the procedure. 

But this early orthodontic treatment approach has its own pros and cons. To understand what they are, we must first ask the question: what is the two-phase treatment to childhood malocclusion?

The two-phase approach aims to correct bad habits that cause malocclusion

Some types of malocclusion aren’t caused by genetic factors. That much is true. In some cases, lousy childhood habits can cause the teeth to develop in peculiar ways, such as thumb-sucking and mouth-breathing. One thing the two-phase approach looks to do, then, is to first correct these habits before moving to braces. These corrections, in turn, could hopefully leave more long-term effects.

Typically, the two-phase approach goes like this:

  1. During the first phase, the orthodontist prescribes an oral appliance. This appliance can help ease the symptoms of malocclusion. This appliance will depend on the type of malocclusion detected. These appliances may include a palatal expander (a device that provides more space to the upper jaw) or a space maintainer (for prematurely lost primary teeth). As with all early orthodontic interventions, the child may wear these appliances for 9-18 months.
  2. After phase one, your child’s orthodontist may ask them to rest for about 2 years. This is so their mouths grow correctly. They typically monitor your child’s development during this time.
  3. During the second phase, your child’s orthodontist will finally let your child wear braces. Those who vouch for the two-phase approach usually say that the treatment time is generally shorter. 

Is early orthodontic intervention necessary?

This early orthodontic treatment approach has pros and cons. Some dental professionals may argue that the two-phase approach isn’t necessary. For them, malocclusion can be fixed during the later stages of dental development. Others may also argue that the two-phase approach is a waste of money.  

While valid, these arguments don’t dampenthe treatment’s benefits. The appliances used, after all, do have their merits in solving their own problems. Space maintainers, in particular, are a popular device to use when a child loses a baby tooth too early. 

As with all things, however, it ultimately depends on you whether you’d want to take the approach. Regardless, there’s no harm in trying.