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Two-Phase Treatment

Early Treatment in Orthodontics, Two-Phase Treatment

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. The sooner orthodontic facts are faced, the better a family can plan and understand the benefits of correction. Although treatment is rarely required before age 7, some very difficult to correct growth problems can be corrected early. These types of problems may not be correctable, even at age 12, without surgical intervention. Unfortunately, many parents assume they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth before considering orthodontic alignment. Oftentimes, parents find out that treatment would have been much easier for their child to go through if started earlier. 

Most people associate orthodontic treatment with teenage children; however, orthodontists can spot developing problems with jaw growth or with the teeth much earlier while the "baby" teeth are still present. Some of the more noticeable conditions that indicate the need for early examination include: 

  • Early or late loss of teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
  • Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
  • Jaws that are too far forward or back
When appropriate, early orthodontic treatment, commonly referred to as Phase One, can begin when children are 6 to 10 years of age. There are a variety of orthodontic appliances designed to guide jawbone growth. In some cases, early treatment achieves results that may not be possible once the face and the jaws have finished growing. Early treatment can prevent serious dental problems and eliminate the need for more drastic measures down the road. Most bite problems are inherited and although these dental problems cannot be prevented, early diagnosis and correction can help return the bite to a normally growing pattern. 

The Second Phase

When orthodontic treatment is required while "baby" teeth are still present, this treatment is necessary to correct a growth problem. Phase One is all about jaw growth and positioning the teeth in a healthy position to make room for the incoming permanent teeth. In most cases, a second phase of treatment is required when all the permanent teeth are in or ready to grow in.  This second stage is necessary to complete the tooth and bite alignment, and is quite often referred to as the finishing stage. 

The time between the first and second phase of treatment can vary from patient to patient. During this time, retainers are worn as needed and the patient continues to be seen by Dr. Vargo and is re-examined on a regular basis.  The need for two treatment phases means that the original jaw growth and dental development showed enough complications to require early intervention. This also means more time, effort, braces and expense related to treatment, however the rewards are well worth it! 

If you have questions about early treatment, please contact our Treatment Coordinator, Lisa Swardenski at