Process of getting braces or clear aligners and what to expect during treatment?

Dr. Hoss Abar

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Orthodontic treatment corrects misaligned teeth, improves your bite, and boosts confidence. Whether you're considering braces or clear aligners, understanding the process and what to expect during treatment is essential. However, many people have questions and concerns about the process, so we've created this comprehensive guide.   

This blog post will provide step-by-step guidance on getting braces or clear aligners, starting from the initial consultation to the retention phase. You'll gain insight into the treatments available, what happens during fittings and adjustments, and how to properly care for your braces or aligners.  

Initial Consultation   

Your first orthodontic consultation is vital for your treatment journey. You'll meet with an orthodontist or specialized dentist for a comprehensive examination to set the foundation for your treatment.  

  • Getting to Know You: 

The orthodontist/dentist will ask about your dental history and concerns to understand your goals.  

  • Visual Examination:

 The orthodontist or dentist checks your teeth, jaws, and face to identify dental issues and plan the best treatment.  

  • X-rays and Imaging: 

The orthodontist or dentist may request X-rays or other imaging techniques for a more comprehensive view of your teeth and jaw alignment. X-rays provide detailed information about the position of your teeth and the underlying structures. In some cases, digital scans or impressions of your teeth may be taken to create a 3D model for treatment planning.  

  • Bite Analysis: 

The orthodontist or dentist will assess your bite, looking for abnormalities or malocclusions. They will evaluate how your upper and lower teeth fit together and analyze overbite, underbite, crossbite, or open bite. Analyzing your bite is crucial in determining the most suitable treatment plan.  

  • Orthodontic Records: 

At the first consultation, the orthodontist or dentist may take extra records like photos, dental impressions, and measurements. These records help plan and track your treatment progress.  

  • Treatment Options and Discussion: 

Based on the findings from the examination and orthodontic records, the orthodontist or dentist will discuss the recommended treatment options with you. They will explain each option's pros and cons, considering your specific case and treatment goals. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions, express any concerns, and gain a clear understanding of the treatment process.  

Treatment Options and Discussion
  • Treatment Plan and Timeline:

 The orthodontist or dentist will create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs after the discussion. They will outline the proposed orthodontic appliances (braces or aligners), the estimated duration of treatment, and the anticipated milestones along the way. They will also provide an overview of the costs and necessary preparations before starting the treatment.  

The first consultation is crucial for your orthodontic journey. You can ask questions and share your concerns while your orthodontist collects information to create a personalized treatment plan. It's a great chance to build a good relationship with your orthodontic team and ensure a successful experience.  

Treatment Planning  

After the initial consultation, the orthodontist or dentist will embark on the critical task of treatment planning. Orthodontists consider several factors when creating a treatment plan that aligns with the patient's goals and requirements. Here's an overview of how treatment planning is typically done:  

  • Analysis of Diagnostic Records: 

The orthodontist will review X-rays, photos, and dental impressions to assess the severity of dental and facial issues and determine the best treatment approach.  

  • Assessing Orthodontic Issues: 

The orthodontist evaluates dental issues like misalignment, overcrowding, and gaps to create an effective treatment plan.  

  • Treatment Options: 

An orthodontist will assess a patient's case and select from various treatment options, such as traditional braces, clear aligners, or lingual braces, based on factors like lifestyle and treatment goals.  

  • Treatment Objectives: 

The orthodontist will establish specific objectives based on the patient's desired outcome and oral health needs. This may involve discussing aesthetic goals, functional improvements, and patient concerns regarding their smile. By aligning the treatment objectives with the patient's expectations, the orthodontist can ensure a satisfying treatment experience.  

  • Customized Treatment Plan: 

The orthodontist creates a personalized treatment plan based on diagnostic records, assessments, and objectives. It includes steps, appliances, surgeries, milestones, and estimated duration.  

  • Patient Education and Communication: 

The orthodontist will explain the treatment plan and answer any questions to ensure the patient is informed and involved in their orthodontic journey.  

  • Collaborative Decision-Making: 

The orthodontist and patient work together to create a treatment plan that fits the patient's preferences, lifestyle, and unique needs. This collaborative approach empowers patients to make informed decisions.  

Getting Braces or Clear Aligners   

Getting braces or clear aligners involves several steps to ensure precise and customized treatment. Here's a detailed overview of what you can expect during the process:  

  • Customized Treatment Plan: 

Using dental impressions, X-rays, and digital scans, the orthodontist will create a customized treatment plan specific to your needs. This plan outlines the movement of your teeth and the anticipated progress throughout the treatment.  

  • Placement of Braces or Clear Aligners:

 If you opt for traditional braces, the next step is the placement of the brackets and wires onto your teeth. The orthodontist will dry your teeth before attaching the brackets using a dental adhesive. Wires are then threaded through the brackets and secured with elastic bands. If you choose clear aligners, you will receive a series of custom-made aligner trays to fit your teeth. You will be instructed on how to wear and change the aligners according to your treatment plan.  

  • Adjustments and Progress Monitoring: 

Regular adjustments are necessary for braces to move your teeth into their desired positions gradually. During these adjustment appointments, the orthodontist will change the wires, tighten or replace elastic bands, and modify your braces. With clear aligners, you will typically switch to a new set of aligner trays every few weeks to continue the progression of your treatment.  

  • Oral Hygiene and Care: 

Proper oral hygiene is essential throughout orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist or dental team will provide instructions on how to brush and floss effectively with braces or clear aligners. They may recommend specific tools, such as interdental brushes or floss threaders, to help clean hard-to-reach areas.

Oral Hygiene and Care


  • Follow-Up Appointments: 

Regular follow-up appointments will be scheduled to check your progress and make any necessary adjustments. These appointments are crucial for the orthodontist to evaluate the movement of your teeth, ensure everything is progressing as planned, and address any concerns or issues you may have.  

  • Treatment Duration: 

Treatment duration varies depending on your case's complexity and the recommended treatment plan. It can range from several months to a few years. Compliance with wearing aligners or keeping up with adjustment appointments is vital to achieving optimal results within the estimated treatment time.  

Open communication with your orthodontist or dental team is key throughout getting braces or clear aligners. They will guide you through each step, provide support, and address any queries or concerns that may arise. Remember to follow their instructions diligently to achieve the best possible outcome for your orthodontic treatment.  

Duration of Treatment   

The duration of orthodontic treatment can vary depending on several factors, including the case's complexity and patient compliance. While every individual's treatment timeline is unique, let's discuss the typical duration and the factors that can influence it:  

  • The Complexity of the Case: 

The complexity of the orthodontic case is a significant factor in determining the duration of treatment. Mild cases, such as minor teeth misalignment or slight crowding, may require a shorter treatment than severe cases involving significant misalignment, bite issues, or complex malocclusions. Complex cases often require more extensive tooth movement. And may involve additional orthodontic appliances or treatments, which can extend the overall treatment duration.  

  • Treatment Method: 

The treatment method, whether traditional braces or clear aligners, can also influence the treatment duration. In some cases, clear aligners like Invisalign can provide faster results than traditional braces, especially for mild to moderate cases. However, it's important to note that the suitability of clear aligners depends on the orthodontist's specific orthodontic needs and discretion.  

  • Age and Growth Patterns: 

The patient's age and dental and skeletal development stage can impact the treatment duration. Orthodontic treatment may take longer in younger patients whose dental and skeletal structures are still growing and developing. In contrast, adult patients whose growth has been completed may experience a more stable treatment timeline.  

  • Patient Compliance: 

Patient compliance is crucial to the overall treatment duration. Following the orthodontist's instructions, including wearing appliances as directed, maintaining good oral hygiene, attending regular adjustment appointments, and following dietary recommendations, can significantly impact the effectiveness and efficiency of the treatment. Lack of compliance or inconsistent adherence to instructions may result in treatment delays or longer treatment times.  

  • Treatment Goals: 

The specific treatment goals and desired outcomes can also affect the duration of orthodontic treatment. For some patients, achieving a perfectly aligned smile and occlusion may take longer due to the complexity of their case or the need for additional procedures, such as extractions or jaw surgery. Discussing your treatment goals with your orthodontist during the initial consultation can help set realistic expectations regarding the treatment duration.  

Orthodontic treatment can vary from several months to a year, depending on the complexity of your case. Your orthodontist will give you an estimated treatment timeline during the initial consultation.  

Each patient's orthodontic journey is unique, and treatment duration varies. Good oral hygiene, attending appointments, and the following recommendations can optimize treatment and achieve desired results.  

Retention phase  

The retention phase is an essential part of orthodontic treatment that follows the active alignment phase with braces or clear aligners. It involves using retainers to maintain the results achieved during treatment.  

Remember, the retention phase is a critical part of orthodontic treatment that should not be overlooked. Using retainers as directed by your orthodontist will help maintain the results. Moreover, it preserves your beautiful smile and protects the investment you made in your orthodontic journey.  

Maintaining regular follow-up appointments with your orthodontist during the retention phase is essential. Follow-up appointments help monitor your teeth' stability and address any concerns that may arise. Committing to the retention phase and diligently wearing your retainers as prescribed allows you to enjoy a lasting, confident smile for years. 

Contact your Pinole dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD at Abar Orthodontics, to learn more about the types of Orthodontic treatment: Braces, Clear aligners, and more.


Types of Orthodontic treatment: Braces, Clear aligners, and more.

*This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition.

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