Phase 1 vs. Phase 2 orthodontic treatment

Here at Oread Orthodontics, we aim to provide parents with reliable, expert information on what a long-term plan for their child might look like. This can sometimes include a two-part treatment. Many parents wonder about the difference between Phase 1 vs. Phase 2 treatment, and we have all your answers! 

If you’ve been trying to determine if your child may need orthodontic treatment, we’re here to help! With clear, concise information from an experienced orthodontic source like Dr. Wood, you’ll have every tool you need to make the best choice for your child’s smile. Keep reading below to learn more! 

The starting line for a healthy smile

The first step in any orthodontic journey is an orthodontic evaluation. At Oread Orthodontics, your initial consultation is always free! Although there’s no minimum age for a child to have their first orthodontic evaluation, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an examination by around seven. By this time, most children will usually have a mix of permanent and baby teeth. An evaluation at this stage will give our team the chance to find, diagnose, and treat many common dental issues before they become more serious.

Like these orthodontic evaluations, early intervention can also reduce the need for more intensive orthodontic treatment later on. If a young child needs orthodontic care, we may choose to use two treatment phases to get ahead of serious problems. 

Understanding Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment

We sometimes refer to Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment as two-phase treatment. This process involves a child receiving orthodontic treatment at two separate times, usually with a break in between. 

In most cases, we’ll start the first phase of treatment when the child still has a mix of primary and permanent teeth. Next is a rest period before beginning the second phase, which will be once most or all of the adult teeth have emerged.

The two-phase treatment approach allows us to create a better environment for a child’s permanent teeth to grow. This gives them the best start for a healthy smile that functions precisely the way it should! 

When your child visits Dr. Wood for the first time, he will complete a thorough oral examination, inspecting your child’s mouth, teeth, and jaws. If any of the following is a concern, he may recommend a two-phase treatment. 

  • Your child shows signs of a particular problem that we want to keep from developing (preventive treatment)
  • Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept (interceptive treatment)
  • Your child’s jawbones appear to need a bit of guidance as they grow (growth modification)

Dr. Wood follows the typical childhood growth patterns and development to ensure the best smile and oral health. Doing so gives him the best chance to improve and correct orthodontic issues at the most reasonable time! Many common dental problems can be treated relatively quickly in a growing child but may require more invasive treatment as they age, especially once their jawbones stop growing. 

Phase 1 treatment can often achieve lasting results for many of these kinds of issues. Sometimes, it can make other problems less worrisome. However, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment to fully align their teeth and jaw.

How Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatments work

To better understand how the entire treatment process works to improve your child’s smile, it helps to know a bit about each phase’s basics. 

Phase 1

Phase 1 treatment can help a child’s jaw develop to accommodate all the permanent teeth better. It also improves the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. This treatment method can have many benefits for a growing child, including an improved ability to bite, chew, and digest their food more effectively. It can reduce the risk of tooth damage because of crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws. If a child is experiencing any of the following issues, they may respond well to Phase 1 treatment. 

  • Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth that don’t come together correctly
  • Oral habits that may affect their dental development
  • Speech problems
  • Jaw out of proportion to the rest of the head
  • Baby teeth are obstructing incoming adult teeth

The goal of any orthodontic treatment is long-term stability. We want the teeth to stay in whatever position Dr. Wood guides them! Once we have completed the first phase of treatment, the remaining permanent teeth should have a clear path to erupt. As we wait for these teeth to emerge, we’ll suspend orthodontic treatment to give the teeth, jaws, and mouth a temporary break. We’ll keep the teeth stable by using either a space maintainer or a non-removable retainer during this period.

Phase 2

This is the stage where everything comes together! We’ll typically start Phase 2 treatment once all your child’s permanent teeth have erupted. Braces or clear aligners will often be part of the treatment plan. Once treatment is complete, we’ll use a fixed bonded retainer or removable retainer to ensure that the teeth stay in their newly straightened positions long term. 

Start your child’s confident smile at Oread Orthodontics

Here at Oread Orthodontics, we understand that every smile is unique, and what works for one child isn’t guaranteed to work for another. Dr. Wood will consider your child’s specific needs when creating an individualized treatment plan for their smile. Once you know the differences and benefits of phase 1 vs. phase 2 treatment, you can make the best decision for your child’s care!

Our expert team is committed to providing the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Lawrence, Topeka, and the surrounding areas. If you have a child around the recommended age for their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to schedule a free consultation for them! Schedule their FREE exam or give our office a call.