Phase I and Phase II Treatment
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic evaluation for all children by age 7 to ensure the permanent teeth are erupting properly and the jaws are growing correctly. Early evaluations also allow the orthodontist to diagnose conditions such as overcrowding, overbites, underbites, narrow upper jaw, missing teeth, harmful habits such as finger sucking, and early loss of an adult tooth.
Children sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow. Leaving such conditions untreated could result in a jaw discrepancy that is too severe to correct as an adult. If your child exhibits any of these conditions a Two Phase treatment approach is needed.
First Phase Treatment or “Phase I”
The goal of the first phase of treatment is to create enough space to accommodate all the erupting permanent teeth and to ensure the upper and lower jaws are growing correctly. Children can benefit greatly from an early phase of orthodontic treatment utilizing appliances that direct the growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws. This early correction may prevent extractions of permanent teeth and/or jaw surgery as adults.
Phase I treatment usually involves placing braces on mostly adult but often baby teeth as well. It also may require dental appliances such as expanders, space maintainers, headgears or habit appliances for thumb sucking for example.
This first phase of treatment typically takes between 12-18 months to complete and is followed by retainers.
Following Phase I treatment, retainers will be used to maintain the position of the newly moved teeth while the rest of the adult teeth are erupting. The resting period varies greatly lasting anywhere between a few months to a few years. During this period x-rays may be taken to monitor the eruption of the adult teeth and determine when the second phase of treatment can be started. Depending on how fast the child loses his or her baby teeth sometimes the resting may not be needed at all and a direct transition to phase II can take place.
Second Phase Treatment or “Phase II”
The goal of the second Phase of treatment is to align the rest of the adult teeth that have now fully grown and finalize the bite to ensure harmony of the teeth, the face, and jaw joints. Braces or Invisalign are needed to achieve this objective and the treatment length can vary between 1-2 years. Additional appliances such expanders, bite plates may also be used depending on the case. New retainers will be made after this final phase to ensure a lifetime of straight teeth and a healthy bite.