These days, we’re able to access information on just about anything we want to within minutes, thanks to the internet and mobile devices. But from time to time, that ability can be a bit of a double-edged sword! When you’re trying to research important topics like dental or orthodontic issues, it can be hard to know which resources are reliable and which should be taken with a grain of salt. Trying to determine if, when, and what kind of orthodontic treatment your child may need may leave you feeling overwhelmed or confused. That’s where we come in!

At Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, we’re happy to provide you with the trusted information you need. If you’ve been searching for clear, concise, and expert facts from a qualified orthodontic source, there’s no need to look any further! To learn more about  what a long-term plan for your child’s orthodontic care might look like, keep reading below.

The first step in any orthodontic journey

The first step towards improved oral health for your child is scheduling an orthodontic evaluation. At Hamer & Glassick, this initial consultation is complimentary. While there’s no minimum age for a child to have their first visit with our practice, the American Association of Orthodontists does recommend that all children have an orthodontic consultation by around the age of seven. 

At this stage in their development, most kids will have a mix of permanent and baby teeth. An examination by our doctors will give us the chance to find, diagnose, and treat many common dental issues before they can cause more serious problems. This kind of early intervention can reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment at a later age. 

By being proactive rather than reactive, we can ensure children get the orthodontic care they need at the most optimal time and in the most optimal manner. We refer to this type of early intervention as Phase I treatment, and it can achieve results that may be unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing later in a child’s life. 

Phase I Treatment

Any parent knows that all children grow at different rates, and their smile is no different! The best age to begin orthodontic treatment will vary from child to child. The AAO recommends early examinations because this allows us to determine how and when a child’s specific problems should be treated for maximum improvement with the least amount of time and expense. 

A child will sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. For example, the upper and lower jaw may be growing too much or not enough. Jaws that are too wide or too narrow can also be recognized at a relatively early age. When we notice these kinds of orthodontic issues in children over the age of seven, they will often be candidates for the first phase of orthodontic treatment.

Children grow rapidly, so they benefit greatly from treatment like this that is interceptive, or preventative. Phase I treatment helps a child’s jaw develop in a way that can better accommodate all the permanent teeth, and also improves the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This method of treatment has numerous other advantages, including an improved ability to bite, chew, and digest food more effectively. Phase one treatment can also reduce the risk for tooth damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws.

How Phase I treatment works

During Phase I treatment, we will generally use fixed or removable orthodontic appliances for a period of several months to correct poor jaw growth, create space for developing teeth, and help the facial muscles develop normally. This treatment may apply to one or both jaws. If you’ve noticed any of the following issues in your young child, we may recommend Phase I treatment after an orthodontic examination by Dr. Hamer or Dr. Glassick

  • Protruding upper front teeth (overjet)
  • Severe crowding
  • Lower teeth in front of upper teeth (underbite)
  • Severe overlapping of the front teeth (deep bite)
  • Front teeth that don’t overlap (open bite)

For young patients who demonstrate a clear need for early intervention, Phase I treatment gives us the opportunity to:

  • positively influence jaw growth
  • harmonize the width of the dental arches
  • improve eruption patterns
  • decrease the risk of trauma to protruding upper front teeth
  • correct or eliminate harmful oral habits
  • improve aesthetics and self-esteem
  • simplify or shorten treatment if later orthodontics are needed
  • reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
  • improve certain speech problems

Young girl with retainer

Once Phase I treatment is complete

After we’ve finished Phase I treatment, any appliances will be removed and we’ll begin an observational period. Every 4-6 months, we’ll monitor the eruption of the child’s permanent teeth, and may recommend retainers during this time. 

Treatment in this phase contributes to longer-term stability, which simply means that the teeth will stay in whatever position our doctors guide them to. Even so, the majority of Phase I patients will still need Phase II treatment eventually in order to continue the stabilizing process by moving the teeth into their final optimal positions. This will often require upper and lower braces or an aligner system to finalize the bite correction.

Creating a custom smile for your child with Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics

Here at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, we don’t do “one size fits all” treatment plans! Every smile is unique, and we know that what works for one child won’t always work for one another. Dr. Hamer, Dr. Glassick, and the rest of our talented team will always base your child’s treatment plan on their particular needs and goals. 

Our practice is proud to offer the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Charlottesville, Crozet, Waynesboro, and the surrounding communities. We’d love to meet you and your family to discuss how orthodontics can benefit your child’s smile!

This is the perfect time to take the first step towards a healthier smile for your child, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation