Phase I Treatment (Early Treatment)

What is phase 1 or ‘interceptive’ orthodontic treatment?

Phase I (phase one) orthodontic treatment, also called ‘interceptive orthodontic treatment,’ refers to treatment that begins at an early age, and this ‘first phase of orthodontic treatment’ typically takes place when a young patient has both primary (‘baby’) teeth as well as some adult (‘permanent’) teeth present. If DelliGatti and Milewski Orthodontic Group recommends a Phase I type of treatment, it is for good reason, as such a treatment plan will correct a dental developmental issue and/or prevent a current dental or jaw development problem from becoming more severe. It is not necessary that all young patients have phase I or ‘early’ treatment, but for certain children, it is of great benefit.

Typically, phase 1 orthodontic treatment is the first of two phases of treatment, and it occurs when a young patient is in need of intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment ‘phases’ or treatment plans. Orthodontic appliances, retainer-like devices, or partial braces may be placed to prevent a problem from occurring, correct a current problem or help to modify your child’s growth and dental development. There are a number of problems concerning tooth alignment, crowding and spacing, gum or periodontal health, jaws and facial development that can be corrected with Phase I treatment. It is common, but not always necessary, that a second phase of treatment will be needed after this first phase. Typically, the second phase of treatment is of shorter duration, reflecting the benefit of early intervention of the first phase of treatment.

When is Phase I treatment started?

Phase I early treatment typically begins between the ages of 6-10 years, and it for this reason that any concerns be discussed with the orthodontist by no later than age 7 or 8. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by 7 years of age. Having an early consultation with the DelliGatti and Milewski Orthodontic Group is the best way to ensure that your child’s growth and dental development are optimal.

What are some indications for phase I treatment?

  • Dental cross-bites and/ or skeletal cross-bites
  • Under-bites or skeletal Class III problems
  • Excessively overlapping or deep bites
  • Open bites (where the teeth in the front do not contact or overlap)
  • Jaw growth or jaws that are not in proportion to each other
  • Severely protruding teeth
  • The presence of deleterious thumb, finger or tongue habits
  • Severe crowding or spacing of the teeth
  • Clefts

Often early treatment turns severe problems that might require future jaw surgery into a more moderate problem that can be treated with braces or orthodontics alone at later date. In essence, Phase I is early treatment that is sometimes recommended to help or prevent a bigger dental/ orthodontic problems from occurring.