Orthodontic Treatment Phases

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A General Review of Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment is highly predictable and immensely successful.  Depending on the severity of the malocclusion (bad bite) or irregularity, orthodontic treatments may occur in either two or three distinct phases.

The benefits of correcting misaligned teeth are many.  Straight teeth are pleasing to look at and greatly boost confidence and self esteem.  More importantly, properly aligned teeth enhance the biting, chewing and speaking functions of the jaw.  There are several types of irregularities, including:

  • Overbite – The upper teeth protrude further than or completely cover the lower teeth.

  • Underbite – The lower teeth protrude further than the upper teeth causing the chin to look prominent.

  • Crossbite – Some of the upper teeth may close inside the lower teeth rather than on the outside.

  • Overcrowding – Insufficient room on the arch causes some adult teeth to erupt incorrectly and become rotated.

The Phases of Orthodontic Treatment

Generally, our orthodontic treatment takes between three and eighteen months to complete.  The treatment time will largely depend on the severity of the malocclusion, crowding or spacing.

Here is a general overview of the three major stages of treatment:

Phase 1 – The Planning Stage

The doctor makes an exact diagnosis in order to align the teeth in the most effective and quick way.  The first visit will include some of the following evaluations:

  • Medical and dental evaluations – Dental and physical problems tend to go hand in hand.  Problems in the oral cavity can lead to (or be caused by) medical problems.  The goal of this evaluation is to ensure that prior medical and dental issues are completely under control before treatment begins.

  • Study models (impressions) – We obtain stone models of your teeth by taking an impression of them. We use a gel substance that hardens around the teeth.  The trays are removed from the teeth and filled with stone to create models of your teeth.  Study models enable the doctor to scrutinize the position of the teeth, and how they relate to the other teeth.

  • X-rays – X-rays are fantastic tools for ensuring you are a good candiate for orthodontic work because we don't want to start orthodontics when there is decay or any sign of dental infection being present...fillings need to get done prior to ortho.

  • Computer generated images – Such images allow the dentist to treatment plan and examine how specific treatments may affect your smile.

  • Photographs – We take “before and after” photographs of the face and teeth to assess how treatment has progressed.

Phase 2 – The Active Phase

All of the above diagnostic tools will be used to diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan for the patient.  Next, the dentist will order your Invisalign trays and get your treatment started. The teeth will gradually move over time until that perfect result is reached!

Phase 3: The Retention Phase

When the teeth have been correctly aligned, attachments will be removed and you'll be done.  The most cumbersome part of the orthodontic treatment is now over. The dentist will next create a custom retainer.  The goal of the retainer is to ensure that the teeth do not begin to shift back to their original positions.  Retainers need to be worn for a specified amount of time per day for a specified time period.  During the retention phase, the jawbone will reform around the realigned teeth to fully stabilize them in the correct alignment. There are a couple different types of retainers available that the dentist will discuss and help you decide on. 

If you have any questions about orthodontic treatments, please contact our office.

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