When most people think of orthodontic care, their minds jump straight to braces. However, there is often much more involved. For many children, orthodontics is a multi-phase process that starts well before their preteen years. On this page, you will learn more about how these phases of care work and how they can ensure that your child enjoys a lifetime of healthy, well-aligned smiles.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, all children should undergo a complete orthodontic evaluation by the time they turn 7 years old. This early exam is important because it allows your family orthodontist in Marquette to check for any developmental problems with your child’s teeth. At this appointment, Dr. Fulks will examine your child’s teeth and take some X-rays to determine if there is a need for phase one orthodontic treatment.
If orthodontics treatment is necessary, Dr. Fulks might recommend that your child wears a device to adjust the alignment of the teeth or to help your child break free from bad habits that might affect their long-term oral development.
This interventive therapy may be able to prevent the need for your child to have braces later on, or it may lessen the extent of future orthodontic treatment. In some cases, it can even correct developmental problems that would require surgery to fix if treatment were delayed until after the child’s mouth stopped growing.
Phase one orthodontic care may last for about a year or so, after which your child’s mouth will “rest” for a period of time. For children who need phase two orthodontics, the treatment should begin after most of the child’s permanent teeth, including the second set of molars, have erupted. This usually happens between the ages of 11 and 13.
The second phase of orthodontic treatment typically involves traditional braces, which apply gentle pressure to the teeth to gradually move them into their proper positions. Depending on the extent of the issues that need to be corrected, phase two orthodontics may last for 12 – 24 months.
After your orthodontist in Marquette removes your child’s braces, your young one will be able to enjoy all the benefits that come with well-aligned teeth. However, in order to continue enjoying those benefits, phase three treatment — retention — is necessary. A retainer will ensure that the teeth do not drift back out of place. There are a few different types of retainers. Some are removable, while others are fixed in the mouth. Dr. Fulks will recommend the device that best fits your child’s circumstances.
A retainer should be worn continuously after the braces are removed. As time goes on, however, your child may graduate to just wearing a removable retainer for just a few nights each week.
Has your child undergone their initial orthodontic evaluation yet? If not, contact our team to schedule an appointment. Your diligence could play a key role in helping your little one to enjoy a lifetime of attractive smiles and sound oral health.