Braces: One Or Two Stages?

Many parents grow concerned as their children get older when the best time to start them in braces is. Immediately? After all their permanent teeth have come in? At what age will I know they’ll even need braces? While there isn’t one correct answer, as every child and case is different, there are a few things concerned parents should consider and bring up with a dentist or orthodontist about before making a decision!

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Some orthodontists believe what is known as a two-stage correction treatment is exactly what certain kids need. A two-stage correction is two different treatments broken into what is usually shorter periods of time, and applied earlier. Essentially, a child has braces twice. Children who receive a two-stage treatment might begin it as early as 7 years of age, with the second treatment starting at around age 10. There is usually a period of at least a year in between treatments where the child is completely braces free. Some debate surrounds this method of treatment. It’s sometimes rumored to “treat the same thing twice,” or to be more costly. Neither of these things is necessarily true. Many two-stage treatments cost essentially the same as a single treatment as they are left on for comparable lengths of time.

A recent study set out to test and identify the benefits of the two-stage correction. They analyzed the cases of more than 700 children who had been treated with braces. What they found was that children who had been treated with braces earlier slightly reduced their risk of seriously damaging their front teeth if they were involved in an accident or fall. The study also deduced a general rule: the earlier treatment begins the longer the results last.

However, most orthodontists will tell you that most kids will do just as well with one, later treatment with braces. Two-stage correction is often reserved for children who exhibit mal-alignments at an early age. The first stage of this kind of correction is designed to target the still soft and growing bones of the mouth and jaw. They are easier to realign and take more readily to tooth alignment at an early age. This first stage aims to guide the incoming teeth into the correct direction. The second stage “sets” the teeth, or finishes straightening and moving the teeth into the spots that the first stage has helped create. This first corrective stage can often include headgear and other devices aimed at correcting misaligned bites as well. Tooth extraction is a lot more common when a single, later treatment is used instead of two.

Another reason two-stage correction is thought to benefit young mouths is the first stage is almost always longer than the second. This means the actual time spent in braces during those tough teenage years (in the second stage) is considerably less than if a single, later treatment is done.

If you’re considering a single stage or two-stage orthodontic treatment for your young child your best bet is to present your concerns and questions to a professional. Call Dr. Bosse of Greenspoint Dental today and get an opinion that can lead to a decision!