Two-phase treatment occurs when a patient is evaluated and needs intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment plans.
Phase I Treatment
Children typically benefit the most from the first phase of orthodontic treatment because they still have their baby teeth. Many orthodontists will recommend Phase I as a preventive treatment, but patients may also begin the first phase in the middle of another treatment or in modification to one. It really depends on the patient’s unique situation. There are many reasons why orthodontic appliances may be needed. At a young age, orthodontics is typically used to prevent dental issues. As a child gets older, or their adult teeth have erupted, orthodontics becomes more restorative in nature. Orthodontics help correct many dental issues like misalignment of the teeth, gums, and jaw and assist in directing jawbone growth. Starting orthodontics in Phase I can help decrease the amount of time needed to reach a successful outcome. In fact, with preventive Phase I treatment, Phase II can be minimized or avoided. Typically, Phase II treatment is normal orthodontic treatment including braces, space maintainers, or clear alignment such as Invisalign. Phase II treatment finalizes the alignment or jaw corrections, setting the patient up for dental comfort for many years.
The Best Time to Begin Phase II Treatment
Because Phase I must be started in young children, or at least before the permanent teeth have erupted, orthodontists recommend Phase II orthodontic treatment between the ages of 11 and 15 (when most patients will have all of their adult teeth). In general, by age 12 it is easier to detect alignment, spacing, or jawbone issues. It is unlikely for permanent teeth to shift themselves to correct problems, and that is why orthodontic treatment may be necessary.
More than 80% of teens will need braces by the age of 19, so if your child is one of them they are in good company! This can be reassuring to many children and teens that may need orthodontic treatment, they know they are not alone. While more and more adults are receiving orthodontic treatment, orthodontists recommend fixing these issues in the teen years because during the rapid growth that happens in adolescence, shaping their bite and teeth can be easier and treatments are often quicker and more successful.
While orthodontists can help parents and patients decide when to begin treatment, patients who have undergone both Phase I and Phase II treatment are more likely to have success that lasts a lifetime. At Pristera Orthodontics, our goal is to make all patients look and feel confident with a straight smile and comfortable jaw function!