Phase I orthodontic treatment takes places when children are still young and their teeth, jaws, and mouths are still growing and developing. At this age, there is an opportunity for an orthodontist to identify issues that may become more serious problems later on, and begin to treat them straight away.
Children should be evaluated by an orthodontist for the first time by no later than the age of 7.
At this age, all the baby teeth have come in, and indeed, some of them are already beginning to fall out, to be replaced by erupting adult teeth. This makes it possible for the orthodontist to identify and treat any problems that may be developing.
What kinds of problems?
There are a several different orthodontic problems that orthodontists can identify early on, and treat immediately.
A child’s growing permanent teeth may be coming in crowded, impacted, or crooked, for instance. Other problems include early or late loss of baby teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, improper jaw alignment, and cross bites. All of these, if left untreated, will likely become more serious problems as your child gets older, but can be headed off with early intervention.
What does Phase I Treatment involve?
The details of early interceptive treatment will vary depending on the orthodontic problem in question. Treatment may include things like palatal expanders, partial braces, temporary anchorage devices, or head gear.
Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting problems may be treated with various temporary or permanent habit breaking appliances, as well as habit breaking therapy.
Phase I treatment is done in preparation for phase II treatment (full braces), so keep in mind that your child may still need braces when his or her phase I treatment is complete. Phase one treatment, however, can limit the severity of a given problem, or eliminate it completely. This means that later orthodontic treatment may not take as long as it might have otherwise, and may have better results.