Orthodontic treatment is a step by step system. While every orthodontic case is different to the next, the journey patients take is quite similar. Here we will walk you through the three phases of orthodontic treatment so you know what to expect at each stage.
Phase 1 - Pre-Braces
There is some preparation you and your orthodontist will have to do before you’re ready for braces.
At your first consultation, we’ll review the position of all your teeth and decide what orthodontic options are available to you. We’ll also check on the health of your teeth and gums.
Next, we’ll send you for x-rays which are an important clinical evaluation tool for orthodontists. Orthodontic x-rays allow us to view the roots of your teeth and jawbones and check for any underlying oral health problems. If there is a sign of gum disease, we need to treat it before braces are applied. If the x-ray reveals any trapped teeth in the jaw or jaw joint problems, you may need a more complex 3-D x-ray, such as a cone beam scan.
You can read more about x-rays and your orthodontic treatment here.
During this visit we’ll take diagnosis photos (before photos) and intra-oral scans of your teeth. Information gained from your consultations and x-rays are used to prepare a detailed treatment plan.
Presentation of Your Treatment Plan
Once the plan is ready we ask you (and your family members) to return to the clinic to discuss the plan. Your treatment plan includes all your options and then it’s up to you/your parents to decide on proceeding with the treatment. The types of treatment include ceramic, metal, standard, or lingual braces on both arches or just one and an option of clear aligners when indicated. Depending on the case, some patients have a few options to choose from, while other patients are only suitable for metal braces. During the appointment, we’ll explain the journey through the different stages of treatment and answer all your questions.
For some (usually younger) patients, the orthodontist may recommend your orthodontic treatment starts with expanders. Suitable only for patients whose palate hasn’t yet fused, expanders allow us to widen the jaw, so the teeth have more room to fit in the bigger jaw. Without the use of an expander, the patient will most likely need some teeth removed to help with their overcrowding issue.
Visit Your Dentist
Not everyone undertaking orthodontic treatment has overcrowding issues. But for those patients who need teeth extracted, they will make an appointment with their regular dentist for the extractions. Patients need to wait at least two weeks after the extractions before they can have their braces applied.
All patients should visit their dentist in the lead up to their braces being applied for a scale and clean.
Around one week before your braces are due on, you will come into the clinic for separators. These are rubber bands placed around your back teeth, so there is room for the metal rings to be placed over your back anchor teeth on braces application day.
Phase Two - Treatment
This is the active phase of your treatment.
It’s time to apply your braces! You should take some short-term pain relief, before arriving at the clinic. While it doesn’t hurt when we apply your braces, within a couple of hours your teeth might feel sore, so it’s best to have had some pain relief.
We’ll start by removing the separators (if they haven’t fallen out). Then we’ll prepare each tooth before using dental glue, to adhere the brackets to the face of the tooth (or back for lingual braces).
Once the brackets are in place, we’ll put in the archwires. Your therapist will show you how to brush and floss your teeth with braces. Before you leave, we’ll give you a goodie bag with some items to help keep your teeth clean and healthy. We’ll ask you to come back to the clinic in about one week to check how everything is going.
During the first phase of treatment, we’ll level and align your teeth into their desired position. To do this, you’ll visit the clinic every four to eight weeks to have your braces adjusted, so your teeth keep moving into their desired position.
Once your teeth are level and aligned, it’s time to work on any bite issues. You might have an overbite, underbite or crossbite that needs correcting so your braces will be adjusted to fix this issue. Some patients have gaps that we’ll close during this stage or have spaces left from tooth extractions that the orthodontist will close with the braces. Depending on your treatment plan, we’ll use elastics, springs or implants to speed up the treatment time and achieve the best final result.
Some patients may need another set of x-rays taken to check on the position of their teeth roots and to assist with any repositioning of any brackets.
We spend the final months of braces tidying up or “fine tuning” the alignment and the bite. Your orthodontist will do some fine tuning to make sure teeth are in their optimal position.
Depending on the treatment you had, your orthodontist may recommend a fixed retainer for the bottom arch (or both arches) to ensure your teeth stay in their desired position. You can read more about retainers after braces here.
We fit the fixed retainer in place on the day your braces come off. Having your braces removed is fairly quick. We spend the most time cleaning off any remaining adhesive and polishing your teeth. Next, we’ll take moulds of your teeth for your removable retainers and take some photos of your beautiful new smile.
Considering Orthodontic Treatment for Your Child?
There are many advantages to starting orthodontic treatment for children at a young age. Improve your child's smile and book an appointment!
After Your Braces
Your removable retainers will be available for collection from the clinic one or two days after we remove your braces. You will need to wear your retainers full time for at least three months while your teeth and gums settle down. After three months, you will see your orthodontist and you will either start wearing the retainers for 12 hours at night or continue wearing them full-time for a little longer.
All patients see the orthodontist at six, nine and twelve months post braces to check your teeth then annual check-ups to check your retainers still fit and your teeth are in their correct place. Always remember to bring your retainers with you to every appointment. If your wisdom teeth haven’t erupted yet, x-rays every two years will allow your dentist to monitor them. An impacted, infected or erupted wisdom teeth can cause problems and movement of surrounding teeth.
If you have any queries about what’s next in your orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re always happy to give you a progress report.