The concept of treating children in two distinct phases became popular in the 1980’s. Phase One of treatment was conducted at approximately age 7 or 8 and lasted about one year. Then, a second phase of treatment (Phase Two) was completed at approximately age 12. This Two Phase Approach to treatment was quite popular and was thought to result in better outcomes.
As is commonly the case, it took many years for research to come out which adequately addressed whether this Two Phase Approach was more effective than the more traditional Single Phase Approach.
The research primarily began to come out in the 1990’s and there has been a steady stream since. The majority of the research suggests that fewer than ten percent of all children end up with a better result by having two phases of treatment. The remainder are best treated with one single phase of treatment. Thus, the Two Phase Approach has steadily declined over the years.
Dr. Barefoot and Dr. Theroux were trained at different schools, 15 years apart. Their training and review of the research has led them both to the same conclusion: all children should be examined by an orthodontist at age 7, but the vast majority do not need treatment until approximately age 12. When we examine children at age 7, over 90% of them are put into our complimentary Growth and Guidance Program (Kids Club). At Total Orthodontics, we have over 1,300 children in our Kids Club! The Program is totally complimentary and we typically see the patients every 9 months to monitor jaw growth and dental development. By making good decisions along the way, we are able to keep our treatment times to a minimum. Our average time for full braces is now 20 months.
You can rest assured that at Total Orthodontics we will never recommend two phases of treatment unless the research supports that approach for your child’s individual situation. There are some conditions which warrant the Two Phase Approach; however, so it is important for all children to be screened at age 7.
Both Dr. Theroux and Dr. Barefoot feel Two Phase orthodontics is grossly over-prescribed by orthodontists.