Often, children are treated in two phases of orthodontic treatment. Early/phase I treatment when some baby teeth are present and then full/phase II treatment once all the permanent teeth have erupted. See below to learn more about early and full treatment.
Early Treatment (Phase 1)
This phase of treatment is necessary when there are problems with the way that the adult teeth are erupting into the mouth, when there is not enough room for the adult teeth to come in or problems with the way that the jaws are growing and developing relative to one another. Usually, this phase is more limited in treatment time than a full set of braces and usually takes about a year or less.
Not everyone will need phase I treatment and Dr. Kopicki will decide if early treatment is right for your child. The idea of early treatment is that it will decrease the difficulty of phase II treatment and help establish a stable bite and jaw relationship. Most children who receive phase I treatment still end up needing full braces when all their permanent teeth erupt.
Common problems that are addressed in phase I are crossbites, excessive crowding, excessive spacing / protrusion of teeth, habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, open bites or severe deep bites, and underbites.
Once phase I is completed, the appliance and / or braces will be removed, and your child will be put on evaluation every 6 months to 1 year to assess the eruption of the remaining permanent teeth. The teeth at this stage are not in their final positions as permanent teeth are still erupting into the mouth and need some wiggle room as they come in.
Full Treatment (Phase II)
Full/phase II treatment begins once all of your permanent teeth have erupted. The reason for separating the treatments is that limited treatment early can help minimize the invasiveness, length, or severity of the subsequent full treatment.
Phase II treatment is typically full upper and lower braces and will be started once all of your child’s permanent teeth have come in. This is the phase of treatment where all of the teeth will be definitively aligned, and the bite will be fully corrected. This treatment takes between 18 and 24 months on average. At the end of this phase of treatment, retainers will be made to keep the teeth in place.