DENVER (CBS4) – A growing trend has orthodontists putting children as young as seven in braces. Two-phase orthodontia is growing in popularity and it requires putting braces on children when they’re in elementary school, and then again in middle or high school.

Parents know braces are very expensive and 4 On Your Side Money Saver Suzanne McCarroll wondered if the new technique is really necessary, or a waste of money.

Orthodontists say two-phase orthodontia prevents problems from developing and treats problems as teeth are still coming in and the jaw is young enough to be reshaped. But it’s not for everyone and certainly don’t get talked into something a child really doesn’t need.

Bella Sundstrom got her first round of braces at age seven.

“My mouth was really small and my teeth couldn’t come in because they were all squished together,” Bella said.

“Isabell had a very distinctive underbite,” Bella’s mother Dee Sundstrom said.

“Sometimes we can correct problems early that if you waited too long you’d be doing surgical procedures to kids,” orthodontist Dr. Robert Rudman said.

At age 10 Devon Harris doesn’t like her smile.

“I don’t really like that they’re not straight,” she said.

At the University of Colorado dental school, Jerry Minick says two-phase orthodontia is catching on because it can help patients avoid more expensive treatments down the road.

“Somebody who traditionally has something like a crossbite, which the upper teeth are supposed to fit on the outside of the lower teeth,” Minick said.

A typical two-phase patient starts young, is in braces for a year, gets out of braces, and then gets a new round of braces in middle school. That’s what high school senior Bryce Jonassen did.

“My teeth are straight, so I have a confident smile. I’m not scared to show my teeth when I smile at all,” Jonassen said.

Still, don’t get talked into years of treatments if a child really doesn’t need it. But good luck telling that to a child convinced that braces are the perfect path to beauty.

“My smile will look amazing,” Harris said.

The good news is two-phase orthodontia isn’t twice as expensive, but before signing up, ask a dentist for a good recommendation of not one, but two orthodontists. Always get a second opinion. Make sure there is a contract for the costs so they can’t keep adding to the bill.


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