Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a dual step method of aligning a child’s teeth and producing a functional bite. Usually, two-step orthodontic treatments begin between the ages of 7 and 9, when many of the primary teeth remain in a child’s mouth. The braces stay on for a year or two, after which time they are removed and replaced with a retainer. This resting phase lasts about 3 years, after which time children return to the orthodontist for the second phase of treatment. From start to finish, two phase orthodontics can take 5 years or more, but most orthodontists and parents believe the results are often worth the extended treatment time.
The American Association of Orthodontists endorses early childhood orthodontic treatments. The Association recommends an initial screening for every child no later than age 7. Because children this age have achieved approximately 80 percent of their total facial growth, a first phase of treatment during this time period can leverage remaining growth. By the time they reach age 11 or 12 (when the second phase of treatment is initiated), children have achieved more than 90 percent of their lifetime facial growth.