Here at Delplanche Orthodontics, we know that you only want the best for your child. That includes a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile! It can be difficult to determine if, when, and what kind of orthodontic treatment your child may need, but our expert team is here to provide you with trusted and reliable information. Keep reading below to learn what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care might look like!
What is the first step in a child’s orthodontic journey?
The first step in any smile journey is a consultation with a qualified orthodontic specialist. At our Beaverton and Lake Oswego offices, this initial consultation is complimentary. Although there’s no minimum age for a child to have their first visit with us, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and Dr. Delplanche recommend all children have an orthodontic consultation by around seven years old. This doesn’t mean every child will need treatment at that time! This early assessment simply provides a better understanding of your child’s unique orthodontic needs.
Most children will have a mix of baby and permanent teeth at this stage in their development. An examination in early childhood allows us to find, diagnose, and treat many common orthodontic issues before they have the chance to become more serious. This can reduce the need for more intensive treatment at a later age. By taking a proactive approach, Dr. Delplanche can ensure children receive the orthodontic care they need at the most advantageous time. This type of early intervention is known as Phase I treatment. With it, we can achieve results that may not be possible once a child’s face and jaws have finished growing.
Who is a good fit for Phase I treatment?
Children grow at all different rates, and their smiles do, too! That means the best age to begin orthodontic treatment will vary from child to child. This is one reason the AAO recommends early evaluations—it lets orthodontists like Dr. Delplanche determine how and when a young patient’s specific needs should be treated for maximum impact and minimal time and expense.
Children will sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. When orthodontic issues are found in kids over seven years old, they’ll often be good candidates for interceptive (or preventative) treatment. If we notice any of the following issues in your child during their examination, Dr. Delplanche may recommend Phase I treatment.
- Large gaps
- Open bite
- Tooth flaring or protruding upper front teeth
- Severe crowding
- Severe rotations
- Premature loss of baby teeth
- Speech difficulties
- Mouth breathing while sleeping
- Thumb-sucking habit
- Extended pacifier use
Under Dr. Delplanche’s expert guidance, Phase I treatment will help a child’s jaw develop so that it can better accommodate all the permanent teeth. It will also improve how the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment has many benefits, including a reduced risk for tooth damage due to crowding misalignment, or malformed jaws. It can even improve a child’s ability to bite and chew more effectively!
How does Phase I treatment work?
During Phase I treatment, Dr. Delplanche will use fixed or removable orthodontic appliances with one or both jaws. For younger patients who demonstrate a clear need for early intervention, Phase I allows your orthodontist to influence jaw growth, create additional space for developing teeth, and help facial muscles to develop normally. This treatment approach can also:
- harmonize the width of the dental arches
- decrease the risk of trauma to protruding upper front teeth
- reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
- correct or eliminate harmful oral habits
- improve certain speech problems
- improve aesthetics and self-esteem
- simplify or shorten treatment if later orthodontics are needed
Once Phase I treatment is complete, a period of observation will follow. Retainers are used during this time to provide extra support in between Phase I and Phase II treatment. We will continue to see the patient in our Beaverton or Lake Oswego office every 4-6 months so that Dr. Delplanche can monitor their growth and development in addition to the eruption of the permanent teeth.
Phase I treatment contributes to the long-term stability of a patient’s smile, and Phase II treatment continues to expand on this foundation with a focus on bite correction and smile esthetics. Dr. Delplanche will prescribe traditional braces, clear braces, or Invisalign clear aligners to finish moving the teeth into their final optimal positions for a beautiful smile!
Give Your Child’s Smile the Best Start with Delplanche Orthodontics
You’ll never find any “cookie-cutter” treatment plans at Delplanche Orthodontics. We know that your child’s smile is as unique as they are, and what works for one patient won’t always be a good fit for another. That’s why Dr. Delplanche will always create a personalized treatment plan for your child based on their specific needs, goals, and lifestyle.
Our family-owned practice is proud to offer the highest-quality orthodontic care to your family. If your child is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how their smile is developing! Get in touch today to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Delplanche, and take the first step toward achieving your child’s best smile.