Early Treatment

The Benefits of Early Diagnosis

Jaw (skeletal) problems can be easily identified at an early age. It is estimated that 80% of our facial growth is completed by eight years of age. An early exam allows Drs. Conlon & Thompson to determine how and when a child's particular jaw and/or dental problems should be corrected for the optimal results.

An early orthodontic examination (7-9 years) does not always result in immediate treatment. After evaluating your child, Drs. Conlon & Thompson may simply want to monitor your child periodically while the permanent teeth erupt and the jaws and face continue to develop.

Early Treatment & Dentofacial Orthopedics

Skeletal (jaw) problems, functional problems and significant dental problems are best treated at an early age (7-10 years) while growth is plentiful. At this early age, various types of dentofacial orthopedics can be used to alter or reshape the jaws and supporting bone to a more normal jaw relationship. An improved structural foundation can be established, which provides space for the larger erupting permanent teeth. Because they are growing rapidly, children can benefit enormously from some early dentofacial orthopedics and limited treatment. Early intervention makes the completion of treatment at a later age easier and less time consuming. If left untreated until older when all the permanent teeth have erupted and facial growth is complete, these same types of skeletal (jaw) and dental problems are more difficult to correct and sometimes require jaw surgery and/or the extraction of permanent teeth. Most of the young patients are very excited about orthodontic treatment and therefore the level of compliance and cooperation is even greater than with the older teenagers.

Two-Phase Orthodontics

When early treatment is recommended, Drs. Conlon & Thompson use a Two-Phase program. This Two-Phase orthodontic treatment involves the diagnosis and correction of orthodontic problems in two separate stages of treatment to achieve the optimal results.

Phase One (early) treatment takes place during a child's younger active growth years (age 7-9 years.) before skeletal jaw problems are firmly established. Interceptive treatment plans are designed to guide and enhance your child's own natural growth to establish proper jaw size, and to correctly position the jaws in relationship to each other. A variety of orthodontic appliances and limited braces will produce dentofacial orthopedics to improve the structural foundation and to create space for the larger erupting permanent teeth.

Following the completion of Phase One treatment, Drs. Conlon & Thompson will schedule periodic observation visits to monitor the growth and dental development. Retainers will be used during this intermediate period to retain or hold the accomplished results from Phase One treatment and to help guide the permanent teeth into their proper position.

A second phase of orthodontic treatment will later be necessary after the eruption of most or all of the permanent teeth (age 11-13 years). This final tooth alignment and detailing is accomplished with the use of full braces to establish the optimal functional occlusion and smile esthetics. The treatment costs from Phase One treatment are credited (deducted) from the full treatment fee to establish the Phase Two fee.

The Advantages of Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

The major advantage of Two-Phase Treatment is the opportunity to utilize the patient's "growth potential" to achieve the desired dentofacial orthopedic changes. The emphasis of Two-Phase Treatment is not to just "straighten crooked teeth" but to produce the best possible jaw (skeletal) relationship and to create the necessary space. Children should not wait until complete eruption of the permanent teeth prior to seeing an orthodontist. By 11-13 years of age, most facial growth is complete, placing limitations on what can be accomplished. Certain jaw and orthodontic problems are more readily treated at an earlier age when growth is more plentiful.