Orthodontic Education

What is Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment?

Phase 1 orthodontic treatment, otherwise known as early interceptive treatment, is an orthodontic procedure that is done for children before all of their permanent teeth erupt, and often occurs between the ages of 6 and 10. 

This type of treatment is periodically recommended by pediatric orthodontists when there are chances of a moderate or severe orthodontic problem occurring early in the child’s life and waiting is not recommended. On the other hand, Phase 1 treatment is also not recommended unless the orthodontist is sure that the treatment can make a significant difference in their patient’s final outcome by performing this procedure.

The main goal of Phase 1 orthodontic treatment is to ensure there is enough room for permanent teeth to reduce the risk of overcrowding, which inevitably leads to crooked teeth. Such early correction can often prevent future instances of dental trauma and avoid chances of permanent tooth removal and even jaw surgery. Leaving such dental issues untreated may require the child to get braces later on in life. 

The treatment time for Phase 1 usually varies between 9 to 18 months. After this, the child is given retainers which are checked every 4 to 6 months while waiting for the remaining teeth to erupt.

Common Orthodontic Therapies Used in Phase 1 Treatment:

  • Space maintainers
  • Functional appliances
  • Expansion appliances
  • Specialized retainers
  • Headgear
  • Limited phase of braces (selected teeth)

Phase 2 orthodontic treatment treats bite growth and the jaw, including issues such as crossbite or underbite. In cases where the upper or lower jaw isn’t growing at the desired level, a child can benefit from early orthodontic treatment.  

What is Phase 2 Orthodontic Treatment?

Phase 2 occurs when braces are placed on the upper and/or lower teeth. Not only does this phase correct spaces and fix misaligned teeth, but it also corrects overbite or underbite concerns. 

Phase 2 typically begins around the age of 11 or 12. This phase of orthodontic treatment usually lasts an average of 12 to 20 months, but, as always, each case is different, depending on the individual. Some children may need braces for up to 4 years, while others have fewer issues and may need to wear them for only a year or so.

Many times, parents wonder if a 2-step treatment is really necessary or if they can just begin with Phase 2 treatment plans once their child is of age. There is no “right answer” to this question as the treatment procedure varies from one child to another and this decision can only be made with a thorough consultation with your orthodontist. Your orthodontist is the best person to help you understand all possible scenarios so that you can make a well-informed decision that’s right for your child.

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