Orthodontic treatment can seem daunting at first. However, treatment occurs according to a step-by-step plan that is easy to understand once it’s laid out. Your orthodontist will be able to communicate your individual treatment steps to you. However, we can provide a generalized overview of the phases of orthodontic treatment to give you some peace of mind as you or your child begins the journey to a healthier smile.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
The 9 Phases of Orthodontic Treatment
Step #1: Initial consultation
Before you can begin your treatment, your provider will conduct the initial consultation. It exists to make sure that braces are the right treatment option for you, and determines if this is the right time for you to start wearing them.
This initial consultation is where you and your doctor will review your available options for treatment based on a visual exam of your teeth.
Step #2: Testing
Tests such as x-rays will help your orthodontist evaluate the current state of your oral health beyond the initial visual exam. These tests are important since cavities or gum disease should be treated before starting braces to ensure that the problem doesn’t worsen during your treatment.
Step #3: Diagnostic scans
Diagnostic scans take a snapshot of your teeth for your orthodontist’s records. These scans are more in-depth than normal pictures: they are intraoral imaging scans that work like advanced x-rays to give your doctor the ability to plan your treatment based on your individual needs.
If your doctor suspects a deeper issue, modern 3D imaging scans (a cone beam scan, for example) can reveal it before the start of your treatment. These scans usually take place at the second consultation.
Step #4: Reviewing your options
After the tests are complete, your orthodontist will review your treatment options with you. Depending on your oral health and your budget, they will discuss the different types of braces applicable to your situation. These could include:
Your condition may be treatable with all these types of braces, or you may be limited to only one to get the help you need. During this visit, your orthodontist will walk you through the full schedule of each applicable treatment type and help you choose based on your situation.
Step #5: Dentist visit
Many patients need to be treated by their dentist before beginning orthodontic treatment. This could include a simple cavity filling. However, based on the results of your x-rays, your orthodontist may recommend having teeth extracted (such as wisdom teeth) before getting your braces.
Note that if you need a dental procedure like tooth extraction, you will need to delay the start of your treatment by two more weeks.
Step #6: Expanders and/or Spacers
Expanders and spacers do not apply to every patient, but they are often used as a precursor to braces. Expanders are used for patients (often young ones), whose palettes need to be widened to begin correcting their crowding issues. Note that this crowding may also be the reason a patient needs teeth extracted before braces.
In tandem with expanders or on their own, spacers (sometimes called “separators”) are small rubber bands that loop around your back molars to create space. This space makes it easier for braces to do their job, especially in younger patients whose mouths are still developing.
You can check out our list of braces appliances here to find out more.
Step #7: Braces appointment
If everything else goes according to plan, you will have your first braces visit, where your orthodontist will fit you for your braces by adhering each bracket to the front of your teeth and attaching the archwire.
If you opt for lingual braces, the wire will be attached to the back of your teeth. If you decide to use Invisalign, this appointment will involve being fitted for your aligners and setting your wearing schedule.
Step #8: Maintenance visits
No matter which type of braces you need, you will need to revisit your orthodontist every 4-8 weeks so they can monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments. You can also schedule extra appointments if your braces hurt or break for any reason.
Some patients require additional x-rays or tests during these maintenance visits to make sure everything is going according to plan. Invisalign patients may also lose their aligners, making it necessary to schedule an extra visit to receive a new one.
Step #9: Aftercare
After your braces have done their job, they can come off. This begins the aftercare step, which first involves another exam to make sure your treatment is completed. Then, your orthodontist will fit you for your retainer and walk you through its schedule, which involves continuous use for the first three months after your braces come off.
At three months, your orthodontist will re-examine you to decide whether you should keep wearing the retainer full-time or switch to the 12-hour schedule. Every three months for the next year, your orthodontist will check the progress of your aftercare at another visit to make sure your treatment is being properly maintained even after your braces come off.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.