Some children benefit from Two-Phase or “Interceptive” Orthodontic Treatment. This combines intercepting and guiding a child’s facial growth with the straightening of his or her adult teeth. Some children exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow. For example, an upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow and crowding the front teeth can be recognized at an early age.
If children ages six to eight have a jaw discrepancy or crowded front teeth, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. This early, or Interceptive, treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth or surgically realign the jaws later in life.
The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish an ideal healthy, functional, and aesthetic smile that will remain stable throughout life. Keep in mind that not everybody receives early orthodontic treatment, and in some cases it may be recommended that a patient wait until he or she is older to receive care.
Interceptive Treatment Allows Your Orthodontist To:
- Correct and guide the growth of your son or daughter’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
PHASE ONE: Create Room for Permanent Teeth
The goal of Phase-One treatment is to guide jaw development in a way that will accommodate all permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Phase I usually begins between ages six and eight, when children’s facial growth can be guided to align their jaws properly and create space for all their permanent teeth. A successful first phase will create room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path without become impacted or severely displaced.
RESTING PERIOD: Allow Permanent Teeth to Erupt
Between Phases One and Two, permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may or may not be recommended, depending on whether they interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement.
Keep in mind that teeth are not in their final positions at the end of the first phase of treatment. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase, which occurs after all permanent teeth have come in. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.
PHASE TWO: Straightening Permanent Teeth
The goal of Phase Two is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly.
This second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces or aligners on all the teeth. Often, an added benefit for children receiving interceptive treatment is a shorter treatment time when full braces are used during Phase Two. Retainers are worn after this phase to maintain the new position of each tooth.