Phase 1: Early Orthodontic Treatment

When is the best time to begin treatment?

Although an orthodontist can improve a smile at any age, there is an ideal treatment time for each patient.  Initiating treatment at this time can ensure the best results and efficiency, while reducing financial expense.  The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist by the age of 7, to determine if and when orthodontic treatment is indicated.  The permanent first molars and incisors have usually erupted.  While orthodontic intervention may not be indicated at this time, thorough examination can predict the most appropriate time to begin treatment.

Why is age 7 an ideal time for initial examination?

Typically at this time, the permanent first molars and incisors have erupted.  With many or all primary (“baby”) molars and canines still present, the back bite has developed.  An orthodontist will evaluate the occlusion (“bite”) in three dimensions: front to back, side to side, and vertical relationships.  By this age, crossbites and underbites can develop, affecting single or multiple teeth. The orthodontist will also examine early development of the jaws, and their contributions to overall facial form.  

What are some advantages of Early Interceptive, or “Phase 1” Treatment?

Some of the direct results of Early Treatment include:

  • Creating facial symmetry and balance by altering jaw growth
  • Discover missing or extra permanent teeth
  • Correct unfavorable habits, such as finger-sucking, mouth-breathing, tongue thrust
  • Reduce trauma to protruding upper front teeth
  • Regulate widths of the upper and lower dental arches
  • Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
  • Create room for anticipated crowding
  • Reduce or eliminate need for removal of permanent teeth
  • Reduce comprehensive treatment duration