It can be confusing why some children start treatment early when they still have some baby teeth (Phase I treatment), only to have treatment later when permanent teeth are present (Phase II treatment), when other children only have one course of treatment in their early teen years (also called comprehensive treatment). Unfortunately not all mouths are created equal! Those children who have severe crowding or severe bite issues may need two phases of orthodontic treatment to achieve the optimal result, whereas their friends with less significant problems may only require one course of treatment.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist at the first sign of an orthodontic problem, and no later than age 7 to determine if early treatment would be beneficial. There are enough permanent teeth by age 7 to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing and whether it can wait to be treated or if early treatment is needed.
The goal of Phase I, or early treatment, is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, which will prevent teeth from becoming impacted or eliminate the need to have to extract permanent teeth. Early treatment can also help stop harmful habits, such as thumb-sucking, which can create future orthodontic problems if not eliminated. Early treatment often allows you to tackle the more challenging orthodontic problems at a time when children are more receptive to orthodontic treatment. This means less time in treatment in those challenging teenage years!
Not everyone needs Phase I and Phase II treatment. However, a complimentary screening by Dr. Fodero can help you determine that you are not missing a critical window of opportunity.