Phase I treatment is early interceptive treatment for children who still have their baby teeth.
Why Early Interceptive Treatment?
Some children (around the age of 6 to 9 years old) need early orthodontic treatment to correct certain bite or jaw issues. At this age, the upper and lower jaws are still able to be changed with orthodontic appliances. The primary goal of Phase I is to allow for favorable growth of the jaws and eruption of the permanent teeth.
What is involved with Phase I Treatment?
Phase I treatment may involve appliances and limited braces depending on the child's clinical condition. The appliances will help the jaws be positioned better so that the child will grow normally. For example, if a child needs a wider upper jaw to help with crowding, crossbites, and/or airway issues, we use an expander. The limited braces will help align the anterior teeth and allow for a much more esthetic smile!
What happens after Phase I Treatment?
For our patients, Dr. Jennifer Yau will provide retainer(s) at the end to help retain the teeth and jaws. This will prevent any relapse of the movement that has been done during treatment. Since a child will continue to lose baby teeth and have permanent teeth grow in, Dr. Yau will monitor the child and adjust the retainer at a regular basis. Once all the permanent teeth erupt, she will evaluate for any needs for Phase II treatment.
What is Phase II Treatment?
After all the permanent teeth erupt, patients will be re-evaluated for Phase II treatment. Usually, Phase II is much shorter and easier for the patient since most of the corrections have already taken place in Phase I. Not all patients who undergo Phase I will need a Phase II treatment.
Upper front teeth should always be in front of the lower front teeth. If it is the opposite, the upper teeth gets locked behind the lower teeth. This is known as an anterior crossbite. In these situations, the lower teeth may prevent proper growth of the upper jaw, and the lower tooth may also get gum recession.
Similar to an anterior crossbite, the posterior crossbite is also when the upper teeth are locked behind the lower teeth. However, this time we are talking about the posterior or the "back" teeth. The posterior crossbite needs to be corrected early to ensure proper upper jaw growth and a much more esthetic smile.
When there is not enough space for all the permanent teeth to come in, Phase I treatment can help create more space. By creating more space, your child may be able to avoid having any future teeth extractions.
A large overjet is when the upper front teeth are sticking out forward. These "buck teeth"are more prone to traumatic injuries such as tooth fractures. Phase I treatment to correct their positions is especially important in kids who play a lot of active sports.
Kids usually stop thumb or pacifier habits by the age of 3-4. If the habits continue, they can cause an open bite. Sometimes it may be hard to stop, and your child needs some help. Phase I treatment can incorporate appliances to gently remind your child and break their habits.
A diastema is a space between the upper front two teeth. Usually this space closes more as adult teeth grow in; however, some children are self-conscious about this space. Simple Phase I orthodontic treatment can easily close the space and give your child the confidence to smile bigger.