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Invisalign for Little Smiles? How We’re Shaking Up Phase 1 Treatment

We love Invisalign® here at Innovative Orthodontic Centers. For one, there’s so much precision involved with the treatment and we’re able to control the movements of each individual tooth in a patient’s mouth to design the perfect smile. Then, when it comes to the aligners themselves, you have the unbeatable comfort, aesthetics (they’re virtually invisible!) and convenience.

Since the aligners are removable, patients can maintain their oral hygiene and eat their favorite foods throughout treatment, causing minimal disruption to their daily lives as they straighten their teeth. Dr. Manal Ibrahim is a Diamond+ Invisalign Provider and has been called a “trailblazer” by Align Technology, the company that makes Invisalign, because she’s always thinking outside of the box and pushing clinical boundaries.

In fact, the company has invited her to participate in a number of Invisalign clinical trials, advisory boards and pilot programs and has asked for her advice on how to perfect the product. Given that, it’s probably no surprise that Dr. Ibrahim and Dr. Christine Gin were early adopters of the company’s newest innovation, Invisalign® First, aligners for young patients in Phase 1 orthodontic treatment who still have primary teeth. Innovative Orthodontic Centers was even one of the first practices in North America to offer the option of clear aligners for growing patients!

But First…What’s Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids have their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven. At this stage, they still have baby teeth but we can get a good idea of how things are developing. For most young patients, we just observe them and let parents know when it’s the ideal time to start treatment.

However, in other cases, if Dr. Ibrahim or Dr. Gin spot any red flags, they can intervene early while the patient is still growing to guide the growth of their jaws and help the permanent teeth come in properly. This ensures treatment is easier and faster down the road, prevents more serious orthodontic problems and helps to avoid the need for extractions or surgery. We refer to this early intervention as interceptive treatment or Phase 1 treatment.

In Phase 1, the patient wears Invisalign, braces or an appliance to achieve certain goals, like making room for permanent teeth, guiding the jaws in the proper direction, improving the way the lips meet or preventing a bad bite in an otherwise normal mouth, among other objectives. We always aim to complete this first phase in 12 months or less. When we’re finished, the patient usually wears retainers for six to 12 months to hold the adult teeth where we positioned them.

Then, they get a little break to allow the rest of their baby teeth to fall out naturally and enter our Growth and Development Program, where we monitor them until their permanent teeth are in. When the grown-up teeth have erupted, it’s time to start Phase 2 treatment, which is the standard course of braces or Invisalign most people go through as a teenager.   

What is Invisalign® First?

Traditionally, Phase 1 treatment consisted of braces or certain appliances and Invisalign wasn’t an option. While we’ve been using Invisalign for patients as young as seven at Innovative Orthodontic Centers for some time, Align Technology has officially launched Invisalign® First to the public. These aligners are designed specifically for young patients with mixed dentition (having both primary and permanent teeth) and shorter, smaller teeth.

The aligners are able to manage erupting teeth and have SmartForce® and SmartStage® technology, which make tooth movements more predictable and enable us to support arch development. It can help us reach our Phase 1 treatment goals safely and effectively.

While Invisalign is often thought of as appropriate for teenagers and adults, it’s actually a great option for little smiles and we’ve achieved fantastic results with it. A lot of young patients are reluctant brushers and flossers and introducing brackets and wires to the mix adds another layer to the struggle to get them to keep teeth and gums clean and healthy.

With the removable aligners, they can take them out to brush. They’re comfortable and many patients love the fact that they’re not noticeable and no one can tell they’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Even better? There are no food restrictions, so things like popcorn and corn on the cob are still on the menu.

Invisalign First is a proven way to address the issues we treat with early interceptive orthodontics. As a practice dedicated giving our patients the best possible outcome as comfortably and quickly as possible, we’re thrilled that Align Technology is helping us do that with our youngest patients. Interceptive treatment sets the stage for lifelong oral health and beautiful, functional smiles in the future. Beyond that, it improves the appearance of a patient’s smile to boost their self-esteem and confidence. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Phase I Invisalign treatment in Naperville or Shorewood for your child,schedule a free consultation at Innovative Orthodontic Centers today!