The goal of first phase treatment is to develop the jaw size in order to accommodate all the permanent teeth and to relate the upper and lower jaws to each other. Children occasionally exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper and lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognized at an early age. If children after age 6 are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment.

Planning now can save smiles later

Because they are growing rapidly, children can benefit enormously from an early phase of orthodontic treatment utilizing appliances that direct the growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws. Thus, a good foundation can be established that provides adequate room for eruption of all permanent teeth. This early correction may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws. Leaving such a condition untreated until all permanent teeth erupt could result in a jaw discrepancy that is too severe to achieve an ideal result with braces alone.

Making records to determine each unique treatment

Orthodontic records (diagnostics) will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, x-rays, and photographs.

Resting Period

In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. Retaining devices are not usually recommended since they may interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement while final eruption of teeth occurs. A successful first phase will have created room for teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, the teeth may become impacted or severely displaced.

Monitoring a patient’s progress

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions (which will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment). Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing the eruption of permanent teeth during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month interval.

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