Many parents ask my opinion about having their children treated in one course of orthodontic treatment as opposed to an early interceptive phase that’s followed up a few years later by a second phase. Many people are curious as to why so many orthodontists suggest a two-phase treatment.
The true underlying answer to the question stems from excellent research produced out of the University of North Carolina some 20 years ago. The research focused on bite conditions that existed in large groups of children. Researchers split the group in half with one group being treated once and the second group undergoing two phases of treatment. The results showed that there were a limited number of scenarios where two phases of treatment actually benefitted the patient. These tended to be severe and damaging bite situations and/or jaw development issues. In some cases, the parent may request a two-phase treatment to counteract self-esteem issues the child is facing due to bite or dental alignment issues.
I have used the guidelines from the aforementioned research for the vast majority of my orthodontic career. When I see a child for an initial wellness examination, I ask myself two very simple questions:
- If I initiate two phases of treatment, is there a benefit to the patient?
- If I provide orthodontic treatment one time, at a later date, will the treatment be more difficult for the patient?
If there is a need for two phases of treatment, I spend time with the parent and the patient reviewing their needs in conjunction with the treatment plans. We also spend time reviewing the results of patients with similar challenges that I have treated in the past. I especially enjoy answering any questions they may have.
If no immediate treatment is needed, I will arrange for a series of complimentary wellness visits to monitor tooth development and timing. I then develop the timing for a single course of orthodontic treatment. This conservative approach to care saves patients from inevitable treatment burnout and accomplishes the same results in less total treatment time. This also can decrease the cost for parents.
Admittedly, I am in the minority of orthodontists regarding this treatment philosophy. Why would any orthodontists provide care when the guidelines clearly state there is no patient benefit?
I will let you be the judge of that.
Call or email us today to see this and other differences that we provide our patients at Team Orthodontics. Reach out to our Ahwatukee orthodontist office or our Gilbert orthodontist office and we’ll do our best to help you out with all your orthodontic needs.
Written by Dr. Ken Danyluk, Orthodontist at Team Orthodontics