First Choice Dental

Multi-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

Multi-phase Orthodontic Treatment FAQs

What is Multi-Phase Orthodontic Treatment and how can it help me?

When most of us were younger, multi-phase orthodontic treatment was very uncommon. In recent years, as orthodontic treatment techniques, technology and philosophies have progressed and gotten more sophisticated, multi-phase orthodontic treatment, involving “Phase 1” and “Phase 2” orthodontic treatment phases has become common. In fact, a significant number of young patients could benefit from multi-phase orthodontic treatment. Understandably, families typically have questions when their orthodontist suggests multi-phase orthodontic treatment. These questions and answers can help.

Who is the typical candidate for Phase 1 orthodontic treatment?

Young patients whose jaws are still growing and developing, and whose permanent teeth have not yet fully come in are typical candidates for Phase 1 orthodontic treatment, if the orthodontist detects issues with tooth and jaw development that could get worse if left untreated. This is why the American Association of Orthodontics recommends, and we agree, that children should be seen by an orthodontist at age 7. When teeth and jaws are still in growth stage, orthodontic treatment is much more easily accomplished and can often be less invasive than if left until Phase 2 treatment is possible.

What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process combining tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional and aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your life. Historically, oral surgery was much more common, and often orthodontic treatment lasted longer and was more aggressive. By approaching treatment in multiple phases and by starting younger, we can typically avoid surgery and be more effective while being more gentle, while bringing about effective orthodontic results.

What if I put off orthodontic treatment?

Putting off orthodontic treatment can result in a need for more invasive orthodontic treatment later in life that may not completely fix your smile. Early orthodontic treatment is most effective for achieving predictable, lasting results.

Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment: What Is It and How Can it Help?

Treatment Goals & Overview

The goal of Phase-One treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow can be recognized by an orthodontist at an early age. For this reason, we recommend that children be seen by an orthodontist at age 7. If children age seven or older are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of eight have crowded front teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.

Planning now with multi-phase orthodontic treatment can save your smile later.

Children benefit tremendously from early phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.

Making orthodontic records to determine your unique treatment

Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs. During your child's initial consultation, your doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary.

Resting Period Between Phases of Orthodontic Treatment

In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.

Monitoring your teeth's progress

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments with your orthodontist for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

Phase 2 Orthodontic Treatment: What It Is and How It Can Help

Stay healthy and look attractive with help from your orthodontist.

The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase two usually involves full upper and lower braces.

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan was established. Because of your child’s growth since Phase 1, new orthodontic records need to be taken again before Phase 2 treatment starts. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you retain your beautiful smile.