What is Phase I (Early Interceptive) Orthodontic Treatment?
Phase I Orthodontic Treatment, also referred to as Early Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment, is defined as orthodontic intervention before all the permanent (adult) teeth have come into the mouth. Baby teeth are typically still present during this treatment phase. Phase I Treatment typically happens between the ages of seven and ten years old when a child’s mouth has developed enough for an orthodontist to identify potential bite and crowding issues. At this stage, issues such as crowding of permanent teeth overbite, open bite, crossbite, and underbite can be seen.
By identifying potential problems at this early stage, less invasive treatments can be introduced to expand or improve jaw structure to accommodate the growth of permanent teeth. By doing so, things like jaw surgery and permanent tooth removal can be mitigated.
How Can I Tell if My Child Needs Phase I Orthodontic Treatment?
A child’s dentist may identify and recommend consulting with an orthodontist for Phase I care. However, a referral from your dentist is not required to make an appointment with the orthodontist.
Parents and Guardians Can be Watchful for Things Like:
Prolonged thumb or finger sucking habits
The jaw shifting to one side when a child closes their mouth. This can often result in a crossbite of the back teeth.
Protruding or “flared” front teeth
Crowded, markedly overlapping teeth
A very narrow or V-shaped upper jaw
Please note photo examples below to see common bite concerns. Correcting certain issues early paves the way to better orthodontic and dental health in the future. If left uncorrected, some orthodontic issues can become progressively worse with time and potentially result in unbalanced jaw growth and/or the need for permanent tooth removal when a child ready for full orthodontic treatment in adolescence. When these issues are resolved early through Phase I orthodontic treatment, the jaw can continue in a normal growth pattern and the need for permanent tooth removal is often negated.
How Long Does Phase I Orthodontic Treatment Last?
Phase I Orthodontic treatment times can range from 6 months to 18 months depending on the severity of the issue that is being addressed. A child will typically wear a removable retainer at night following completion of Phase I orthodontic treatment to maintain the positive changes created and hold space for the rest of the permanent teeth to come into the mouth.
Dr. Hammer will continue to see the child for retainer checks every 3-4 months after Phase I treatment is finished. These retainer checks are also an important time for Dr. Hammer to keep an eye on jaw growth and the eruption of the rest of the permanent teeth.
Phase I treatment is termed as such because typically the child still benefits from comprehensive, or Phase II, orthodontic treatment later to address any minor alignment issues with the permanent teeth that came in after Phase I treatment was completed. However, because of the Phase I treatment, Phase II is shorter in treatment time. The patient is often a great candidate for treatment with clear aligners should they desire that treatment option, bulky and uncomfortable appliance are not needed and there is usually not the need for permanent tooth removal because of the positive changes made in Phase I treatment.
Common Bite Concerns