Phase One Vs Phase Two Orthodontic Treatment: What Does It Mean?


While many children get braces to straighten out their teeth, some situations call for more thorough measures to get the best bite. During your child’s initial consultation, you may hear the orthodontist mention a two-phase treatment plan. Learn about phase one vs phase two orthodontic treatment from the top-rated orthodontics in New Orleans, LA.

How Phase One and Phase Two Orthodontics Work Together

During your child’s normal dental appointments, your dentist may recommend that your child  have an orthodontic evaluation. Orthodontists can recognize dental issues before they worsen, giving you and your child the chance to take advantage of growth and development while they still have their baby teeth.

Phase one orthodontics allows the orthodontist to treat your child’s teeth earlier than typical braces, making this an attractive option for younger children with particularly crooked teeth or very narrow arches. When an orthodontist recommends two phase treatment, rest easy knowing that your child will have the straightest smile and best bite possible.

Phase One Orthodontics

Phase one orthodontics focuses on correcting imminent concerns of your child’s dental arches when both baby teeth and adult teeth are present. Phase one is used to help guide adult teeth to erupt correctly. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children have their first orthodontic visit around age seven, usually after a few baby teeth have fallen out. The orthodontist will inspect your child’s mouth to gauge their teeth’s shape, suggesting phase one orthodontics if they have misaligned teeth, a narrow upper jaw, or severe crowding. 

During phase one, your child might use various retainers, palate expanders, or have spacers fitted to ready their teeth for future orthodontic work. Orthodontists use phase one treatment only to correct necessary issues. This treatment might only be used on the upper teeth, the lower teeth, or both, depending on the problems that need to be corrected. Throughout this first phase, orthodontists expect to see better jaw development, evenly spaced teeth, and a better overall bite.

Some children won’t need phase one orthodontics because it won’t affect the overall outcome of their treatment. If the orthodontist feels that your child’s teeth can wait until they have their permanent set, they won’t recommend phase one orthodontics.

Phase Two Orthodontics

Phase one focuses on addressing major concerns when baby teeth are present; phase two works solely on adult teeth. Once your child loses their last baby tooth and their permanent teeth have grown in, your child’s orthodontist will inspect their teeth and evaluate how best to complete their dental corrections.

Permanent teeth exhibiting common orthodontic issues like crookedness, crowding, gaps, or bite problems often need a full set of upper and lower traditional braces to correct. These braces use brackets and metal wires to straighten your child’s teeth over the span of months or years. In some cases, children may only need invisible aligner trays, but for more complex tooth problems, braces provide the best results.

For children whose parents opted in for phase one orthodontics, phase two often takes less time and requires fewer appointments. In addition, phase one orthodontics frequently sets teeth up to grow in a more regular way, eradicating the potential for complex orthodontic procedures like extractions or headgear.

Does My Child Need Both Phases?

Not all children will require a two-phase orthodontic therapy. During your child’s first visit, the orthodontist will take radiographs and determine the best route for your child’s teeth. As time progresses, your child’s behavior and natural tooth positioning will guide the orthodontist in deciding whether or not to start phase one.

After completing phase one, the orthodontist will take other considerations into account when deciding whether your child needs phase two orthodontics. Long-term thumb-sucking, chewing or biting problems, or crowded teeth all indicate the need for phase two orthodontics. The sooner you start working with an orthodontist to fix your child’s teeth, the less likely they will need to include phase two.


Understanding phase one vs phase two orthodontic treatment helps you recognize how these phases combined can positively affect your child’s teeth. For more information on phase one and two orthodontic treatments or to learn more about frequently asked questions about orthodontics, contact Dr. Brent Benoit, our Board Certified Orthodontist at Dental Arts of New Orleans at 504-394-5330.  



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