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Phase I Treatment

This is "early treatment", "interceptive treatment", "Othopaedics" or "Guidance". Essentially, it is treatment, which is performed on young children, sometimes as young as 2 or 3 years but usually on those between 7 and 10 years. This treatment is performed while the children are in their 'mixed dentition', that is while they are losing their baby teeth. Whilst this may come a surprise, as most people associate orthodontics with the teenage years, such treatment is very successful when commenced early. At best it eliminates a second phase of treatment (Phase II) and usually improves jaw relationships even if it does not cure the problem completely.


Diagnosis at this stage is critical and the following are signs of possible early problems:


  • Early or late loss of teeth

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Mouth Breathing

  • Finger sucking or other oral habits

  • Crowding or other blocked out teeth

  • Jaws that shift or make sounds

  • Speech difficulty

  • Biting the inside cheek or roof of mouth

  • Protruding teeth

  • Teeth that meet in an abnormal manner or not at all

  • Facial asymmetry

  • Jaws that protrude or retrude

  • Grinding or clenching of teeth


The timing of treatment varies depending on the type of problem diagnosed and the physical and emotional development of the patient. Phase I treatment usually involves removable or partially removable appliances, which are sometimes worn only at night. These appliances fall into the categories of plates, functional appliances, headgear, expansion springs, expansion plates or face masks. The choice of appliance will, of course, depend on the problem as diagnosed.


The aim of this early intervention is to guide the jaw growth and dental development to allow the teeth to erupt into the mouth in the ideal position. This improves the facial profile, making further treatment, if required, easier and quicker and possibly eliminating the need for extractions.


The benefits of early diagnosis and possible treatment is that there is usually an optimum period for treatment to begin. Thus, early examination allows the orthodontist to determine how and when a child's problem would be treated for maximum gain. In some instances, early treatment achieves results that would be otherwise unattainable, without surgical intervention, after the face and jaw have finished growing.

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