Two Phase Treatment


Two-phase orthodontic treatment, also called “early phase treatment”, is a specialized process that takes advantage of a critical period of jaw growth to maximize the potential for successful tooth alignment in the future. In some cases, correcting tooth and jaw positioning early on encourages more satisfactory dental and facial development during the teen and pre-teen years.


Not everyone needs two-phase orthodontic treatment. At the age of six, we can begin to identify serious misalignment issues, for example an upper or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough. Children with severe alignment problems can benefit substantially by an early dose of orthodontic treatment. If left untreated, jaw discrepancies and overcrowding will likely get worse over time and may become too severe for braces to be effective. Early orthodontic intervention reduces the need for extraction and other complicated, costly procedures later on.

Overall, the benefits of two-phase treatment are:

  • Improved health, function and aesthetics
  • Reduced need for extraction
  • Reduced need for jaw surgery
  • Improved airways
  • A nicer smile
  • Proper facial growth potential


The first, or early phase of treatment, takes place during the mixed dentition phase. This simply means that the child still has both permanent and baby teeth. During this treatment phase, which usually takes 12-18 months, we correct problems such as overcrowding and functional and skeletal problems with the jaw to encourage a more balanced bite. The treatment may include a combination of appliances, for example a removable retainer plus braces on existing permanent teeth.


In between the first and second phases, a rest period is observed during which we wait for the remaining permanent teeth to erupt. We will see you during the resting period, usually once every 3-6 months, to monitor your progress.


The second phase of treatment begins once all of the permanent teeth have erupted. It usually involves a full set of upper and lower braces. Because the jaw is in a better position and each permanent tooth has found its proper space, often at this stage we can focus on aesthetics alone, building a beautiful smile to last a lifetime.

Call our office to find out if your child may benefit from two-phase orthodontics!

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Two Phase Treatment FAQs

Why are there two phases of braces?

In certain cases, a patient’s treatment is divided into two phases. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to take advantage of a critical period of jaw growth to maximize the potential for successful tooth positioning in the future.

The ability to correct tooth and jaw positioning early on encourages better dental and facial development during future years.

Do you always need Phase 2 braces?

In some cases, the treatment is able to be fully solved in the first phase of treatment. At an age as early as 6 years old, we can begin to identify serious misalignment issues, (malformed or underperforming upper or lower jaw, severe crowding preventing proper growth of adult teeth, impacted teeth, etc).

Children with these severe problems can benefit substantially from early intervention. If left untreated, these problems can become worse over time, and treatment will become much more challenging, and much more costly.

What is the retention phase of braces?

The purpose of the retention phase of orthodontic treatment is to maintain the new position of your teeth using a retainer. These retainers can be fixed (stays in the mouth) or removable.

This is a critical step of orthodontic treatment, even if it is the end of treatment. Without proper retention, teeth can start to shift back to improper positions.

How long is the second phase of braces?

The second phase of braces can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years depending on the severity of the case, as well as how successful the first phase of treatment was.

What are the benefits of two-phased treatment?

The major benefits of two-phase treatment are reducing the need for more serious extractions or jaw surgery in the future, improved function, health, and aesthetics, and a much more successful smile and facial growth/proportions.