The Ins And Outs Of Two-Phase Treatment

When your child visits Dillehay Orthodontics for the first time, you may hear the term “two-phase treatment” once their evaluation has been completed. It can sound pretty intimidating if you don’t know what it means!

Essentially, Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that encompasses tooth straightening and physical, facial changes.

The major advantage of this type of treatment is that it maximizes the opportunity to accomplish a healthy, functional, and attractive result that will remain stable for years to come. Still confused? Let’s explore it further!

What is Phase I orthodontic treatment?

Phase I orthodontic treatment, also called “interceptive orthodontic treatment,” refers to the kind of treatment that begins at an early age. In fact, this typically takes place when a patient has both baby teeth and permanent teeth present. Not all children will need to have early treatment, but for some, it has many benefits. Phase I treatment is usually only recommended if there is a dental developmental issue or dental or jaw development problems that could become more severe if left untreated over time.

As you can guess from the name, Phase I orthodontic treatment is typically the first of two phases of treatment. This occurs when a young patient needs intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment phases. A Phase I treatment plan can include orthodontic appliances, retainer-like devices, or partial braces being used to prevent potential problems, correct current problems, or to help modify your child’s growth and dental development.

There are a number of dental issues that can be corrected with phase I treatment, including:

  • tooth alignment
  • crowding and spacing
  • gum or periodontal health
  • jaws and facial development

It’s common, but not always necessary, that the second phase of treatment will be needed after this first phase. The second phase of treatment will often be shorter, due to the early intervention provided by the first phase of treatment.

When does phase I treatment begin?

On average, we would want to begin phase I treatment between the ages of 6-10 years. It’s for this reason that Dillehay Orthodontics, as well as the American Association of Orthodontists, recommend children having their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7. Having an early consultation with one of our orthodontists is the best way to ensure that your child’s growth and dental development are optimal.

What are some indications that phase I treatment would be beneficial for my child?

Some of the more common reasons orthodontists will recommend phase I treatment are:

  • dental crossbites
  • skeletal crossbites
  • underbites
  • excessively overlapping or deep bites
  • open bites (where the teeth in the front do not contact or overlap)
  • jaw growth or jaws that are not in proportion to each other
  • severely protruding teeth
  • the presence of problematic oral habits, such as extended thumb-sucking, bottle, or pacifier use
  • clefts
  • severe crowding or spacing of the teeth

Early treatment can often turn severe problems into a more moderate issue that can likely be treated with braces or orthodontics alone at a later date.

To sum it up in simple terms: Phase I is an early orthodontic treatment that we will sometimes recommend to help or prevent bigger dental/orthodontic problems from occurring later on.

The resting period

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth won’t be in their final positions. This will be accomplished in the second phase of treatment. In between the two phases is a period of rest, during which time the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to come in.

What is Phase II orthodontic treatment?


teen girl with braces smiling on sunny day

Phase II treatment is the normal orthodontic treatment that may follow early treatment. This often involves placing braces on both the upper and lower teeth once all the adult teeth have come in.

Phase I doesn’t always correct all the tooth and bite-related problems a patient may have, so this second phase of treatment with braces is needed to finish aligning the teeth and bite. However, successfully completing phase I treatment can significantly reduce the time needed for second phase treatment. Our orthodontists will straighten the permanent teeth and finish correctly aligning the patient’s jaws into the proper bite during this phase.

The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it can exist harmoniously with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this state of equilibrium is established, the teeth will be able to function together properly.

To sum it up in simple terms: Phase II orthodontic treatment usually consists of full upper and lower braces.

Post-phases treatment

At the beginning of the first phase, the patient will have an orthodontic evaluation, receive a diagnosis, and have a treatment plan established. There may be appliances involved, depending on the problem. The second phase occurs after all the permanent teeth have erupted, and will usually require braces on all the teeth. After both of these phases of treatment have been successfully completed, retainers will be recommended to help keep teeth in their newfound positions and maintain a beautiful, straight smile.

Two-phase treatment in Wichita with Dillehay Orthodontics

Dr. J.K. Dillehay

Two-phase treatment won’t be recommended for every child. It’s worth noting, however, that putting off indicated treatment for your child can result in far more invasive treatment later in life that may not even be able to completely fix their smile. Early treatment is the most effective plan for achieving lasting results.


If you’re in Wichita, Derby, Arkansas City, Pratt, or the surrounding areas, and have a child around age seven who hasn’t yet seen an orthodontist, call us today or click here to schedule an initial evaluation for them at one of our five office locations. From our state-of-the-art treatment techniques and equipment to our experienced and talented team, Dillehay Orthodontics knows what it takes to keep kids smiling into adulthood!