Phase I orthodontic treatment is also known as “interceptive treatment.” We either use it when we know orthodontic problems are inevitable, or when there are existing orthodontic problems which can be improved with early correction and intervention.
These treatments are performed on the child’s baby teeth. They typically take 9-18 months. They will generally involve the use of traditional braces and retainers.
First, we use them to develop a child’s jaw. For example, we may know one of the child’s permanent teeth will be crowded upon eruption. When this happens, we want to widen the jaw to give the tooth more space to develop in a healthy way. If the tooth does not have enough space it will come in crooked, and it will push other teeth out of the way to make room, leading to misalignment.
Second, we use them for underbites, since Phase I typically creates better outcomes for these patients. Phase I helps us prevent surgeries, allowing us to avoid problems which would actually be too severe to correct with braces later in life.
Finally, we look at Phase I when a child has poor oral health habits which are likely to lead to misaligned teeth. Phase I can be very helpful in correcting these habits before they cause issues.