Early / Phase One Treatment
What is Phase I Treatment:
When younger children (3rd or 4th grade) have braces or appliances, this usually means they are undergoing interceptive orthodontics, otherwise known as early intervention or Phase I Treatment.
Why would someone need Phase I Treatment?
Sometimes, the teeth come in quicker than the jaws can grow. An expander, an appliance named so because it expands the arches, can increase the amount of space available for the teeth to come in. The expander is glued to the upper teeth and turned to slowly increase the space availble in the arch for the erupting teeth. Second, occasionally the teeth erupt into what is called a cross-bite, x-bite or scissor bite. These three terms all mean the same thing - that the upper and lower teeth are not coming together properly. To prevent damage to the enamel of the teeth, as well as the bone and gums supporting the teeth, early treatment may be necessary. Last, sometimes a habit - such as thumb sucking or a tongue thrust - is affecting the way the jaws are growing. If the habit is not stopped, surgery may be necessary to correct the incorrect jaw relationship when the patients is older. An orthodontist can have a lab produce a custom made appliance to help you quit the bad habit.
Why can't we just wait and only do one phase of treatment?
By then it may be too late! If the child has already had their growth spurt, hit puberty or has already had too much growth in an excessive or deficient direction, surgery or extractions may be necessary to straighten the teeth and correct the bite. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first consult by 7 years of age.
Does Phase I always mean there will be a second phase (Phase II)?
Phase I treatment almost always implies a second phase of orthodontics will be needed later, known as Phase II treatment / comprehensive orthodontics (full braces or Invisalign).