Phase I

Phase I Treatment

Phase I treatment, also referred to as “early interceptive treatment,” can involve the use of expanders, active retainers, partial braces and headgear, and is orthodontic treatment that is done at a younger age before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. This stage often occurs between the ages of 7-10.


Some orthodontic conditions are easier to correct if they’re detected early. Interceptive orthodontic treatment helps prevent more severe problems later on, and provides an orthodontist control over where the permanent teeth come in by addressing the structure of the jaw and teeth while baby teeth are still in the mouth. By age 7, your child’s mouth has grown and has enough sound structure to know how it will develop as the permanent teeth start to emerge. Drs. Louie and Mah are trained to identify bite issues at an early age and can advise whether treatment is needed at this time. 

Benefits of early interventions include:  

  • Determine a better prognosis for how the permanent teeth will develop
  • Correction of habits (such as thumbsucking or tongue thrusts) that may be the cause of development problems of the teeth and jaws
  • Correction of bite problems like an open bite, cross bite or deep bite
  • Guide the growth of the jaw to accommodate emerging teeth
  • Lower the risk of damage to any protruding teeth
  • Improve your child’s appearance and self-esteem
  • Create a more pleasing and functional arrangement of teeth, lips and face
  • Alleviate future, and possibly more invasive, dental correction

Evaluation by our doctors will inform you of whether your child requires treatment now or if any concerns may be addressed at a later stage. This information is incredibly valuable as you will be able to monitor your child’s growth and development more carefully. We recommend that every child have an orthodontic assessment by age 7. This does not mean that he or she needs Phase I treatment. The examination and consultation will provide you with valuable information on your child’s development.

Conditions That May Require Early Orthodontic Treatment

A thorough orthodontic evaluation will reveal how your child’s teeth and mouth are growing and will provide the opportunity for your orthodontist to provide interceptive treatment if it is needed.

These are the types of teeth and bite conditions that may be cause for early interceptive treatment: 

  • Open bites
  • Deep bites
  • Cross bites
  • Overbite
  • Crowding
  • Spacing
  • Teeth that don’t emerge in the correct sequence or correct position
  • Missing teeth
  • Ankylosed teeth: a condition where the tooth stops erupting and stays in the same place, causing the permanent tooth to be displaced upon emergence


Phase I treatment is recommended by Dr. Louie and Dr. Mah when there is a moderate or severe orthodontic problem that should not wait until later to be treated. Drs. Louie and Mah are very conservative and do not recommend Phase I treatment unless they can make a significant difference in her patient's outcome by doing it. Ideally, we wait until a stage where efficient and efficacious orthodontic treatment can be delivered, providing the best care, at the best time that we can offer. However, there are occasions when and early interceptive phase of treatment is necessary.

The goal of Phase I Treatment is to develop the child's jaws to make room for the future eruption of permanent teeth and to improve the relationship of the upper and lower jaws. An upper or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can benefit from this early orthodontic treatment. This early correction can often prevent dental trauma, later removal of permanent teeth or even jaw surgery. Leaving a severe condition untreated until all permanent teeth erupt could result in a problem too severe to correct with braces alone. The treatment time for Phase I treatment is usually between 9-18 months. After this, our patients wear retainers and are checked every four to six months while waiting for the remaining permanent teeth to erupt.

Later, when most of the permanent teeth have erupted (usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen), Phase II treatment may be recommended.

Potential Benefits of Phase I Treatment:

  • Influence jaw growth in a positive manner
  • Improve the width of the dental arches
  • Reduce the need to extract permanent teeth
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for jaw surgery
  • Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve esthetics and self-esteem
  • Simplify and shorten treatment time for definitive orthodontic treatment (phase II)
  • Increase stability of final treatment results
  • Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
  • Improve speech development
  • Improve position of first molars
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Improve lip competence (how the lips come together when they are relaxed)
  • Preserve or gain space for erupting teeth
  • Improve compliance before the busy teenage years
  • Decreased treatment time in Phase II treatment

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