Two-phase orthodontic treatment can involve both tooth straightening and facial changes. The first phase of treatment is done when a child is younger than the more typical 11- or 12-year-old orthodontic patient.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic checkup by age 7. Most 7-year-olds do not need an early phase of treatment, but because they are growing quickly, some young children can benefit from appliances that help guide the growth of the jaws. This can improve how the jaws relate to each other and can provide enough room for the later eruption of the adult teeth. This early treatment can help avoid the need for removal of teeth during the second phase of treatment.
The “In-between Phase”
After Phase I, the rest of the permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. Retainers are often worn to maintain the Phase I correction, but are checked regularly to allow freedom for the adult teeth to come in. A successful first phase will have created room for teeth to erupt so they may not become impacted or severely displaced.
As the permanent teeth come in, they may not be in their final desired positions. This alignment will be done during Phase II treatment. Each Phase I patient will be carefully monitored until the right time for the full treatment phase. The goals of Phase II are the final alignment of all of the permanent teeth and a harmonious relationship between the teeth, jaws, and face. Phase II is what many people mean when they think about braces.