Types of Treatment

Orthodontic treatment in adolescents is typically timed to coincide with their growth spurts and development. There are different phases or types of treatment that can be beneficial during different times in a child’s growth that make overall orthodontic treatment less complicated and 

Types of Treatment


transformation-1-before, Birmingham AL, Jasper AL, types of treatmentOne of the most important aspects of orthodontic treatment is the proper growth and development of your child’s jaws and facial esthetics. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child first see an orthodontist around the age of 7. This isn’t because they will necessarily need treatment at that time, but it allows the orthodontist to ensure that your child is developing normally. If your child isn’t ready for treatment, Dr. Bates will request to see them approximately every 6-12 months to monitor their growth and development in order to plan for the right time to start and maximize their treatment and time in braces.

Early Interceptive Treatment, or Phase I Treatment

Early Interceptive Treatment, commonly referred to as “Phase I”, is usually needed when an issue with your child’s development is identified, such as an underbite/crossbite, narrow jaws, congenitally missing teeth, early signs of severe crowding, or implications of oral habits like thumbsucking.  We call it “early” treatment, because the patient is usually around ages 7-10 and will still have some baby teeth remaining.

Early interceptive treatment can take many forms and is usually more of a limited treatment overall. Dr. Bates could prescribe a fixed or removable “appliance” – a device used to move teeth, change the position of the jaw, or hold teeth in place in order to bring about desirable changes - such as brackets, space maintainers, habit cessation appliances, or expanders. Sometimes no appliances are necessary, but rather, the timely removal of some baby teeth to help the permanent teeth erupt better. The bottom line is that some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they are found and treated early. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult. Intercepting a problem earlier in development can make comprehensive treatment later much less complicated. In some cases, early treatment can help avoid more serious surgical options later.

Patients that undergo this earlier treatment will likely still need another phase of comprehensive treatment approximately 1-4 years later. This break between phases is usually to allow permanent teeth to come in and prevent the patient from getting “braces burnout”.


Comprehensive orthodontic treatment in an adolescent is undergone when most of the baby teeth are lost and the permanent teeth are coming in. Adolescents are typically ready for comprehensive treatment between the ages of 10-14, but every child is different. The goal is to align the teeth and jaws into a functional and harmonious position to improve your overall oral health and achieve desirable facial esthetics. Total treatment times can range from 18-36 months, depending of the complexity of treatment needed. Orthodontic treatment in adolescents is typically timed with growth spurts for best treatment results, which means timing is everything!

Orthodontic Treatment in Adults


Comprehensive treatment in adults is different than adolescents. Adults usually seek treatment because they never had it when they were younger, they have experienced relapse of their previous treatment, or as a part of a restorative plan with their dentist to set up their treatment for success! In some adult cases, orthognathic surgery may be needed to acquire the desired treatment outcomes and goals. Dr. Bates treats many adults and actually designed his office as a space that adults would feel comfortable coming to without feeling “too old to be there”. 


Limited treatment is usually needed for an adult patient to fix minor shifting after they’ve lost their retainers from previous treatment completed years ago. That one rotated tooth, that little space that has opened up, that little bit of crowding, etc. Limited treatment requires less than a year of your life and will have you smiling with more confidence in no time!