There seems to be a lot of confusion about why some children start orthodontic treatment early (Phase I), only to have treatment again when all the permanent teeth have erupted (Phase II), and why some children have treatment only once (Comprehensive Treatment).
What is Phase One Orthodontic Treatment?
Phase I treatment is recommended for children who have moderate to severe bite problems, such as a crossbite (upper teeth fitting on the insider of lower teeth), an underbite, or an openbite. It may also be recommended for severely mal-aligned or crowded teeth. Patients between the ages of 7 and 10 are most likely to benefit from this early intervention.
One goal of Phase I treatment may be to create a more favorable environment for the eruption of adult teeth. Another goal may be to help the jaw develop in a way that will improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper jaw that is growing too slow or is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. Early growth guidance treatment can help coordinate this jaw growth.
Phase I treatment may involve a few braces to correct the severe misalignment or dental crossbite, a palatal expander to correct narrow upper jaw and posterior crossbite, or a reverse-pull headgear to correct an underbite.
Will treatment (Phase II) be needed again, later?
Most patients will require a second phase of treament after the remainder of the adult teeth erupt; although occasionally further treatment is not necessary. This later treatment (Phase II) could often times be shorter and less complex than would have otherwise been necessary.
Timing and type of treatment depend on the problem and its severity. Phase I treatment usually lasts 6-9 months. Phase II treatment will typically take 12-24 months.
What is Comprehensive Treatment?
Comprehensive orthodontic treatment refers to having conventional braces, sometimes with another orthodontic appliance at the same time, when most of the adult teeth have erupted. On average, this occurs at age 11-12. Depend on the severity of the problems, comprehensive treatment often takes at least 18 months, sometimes as long as 36 months.