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Expectations: What to Expect During Orthodontic Treatment

19 August 2020

If you are considering orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth, correct an over or under bite or fix prominent teeth, or you already have a treatment plan in place and are soon to see your orthodontist to get started, you may be wondering what to expect during the treatment.

In this post we are exploring how orthodontic therapy works, what your orthodontist is likely to do, and what will be expected of you throughout the treatment so that you are fully prepared for your journey towards your enhanced smile.


What to expect during your orthodontic treatment

Treatments will vary from one individual to another as they will be fully tailored to deal with the specific problems faced and the goals desired. The following is a general guide as to what you might expect, but your orthodontist will be the best person to explain precisely what you should anticipate as your treatment progresses, so be certain to ask as many questions of them as you need to.



Many people believe that orthodontic treatment is only suitable for adult permanent teeth. The truth is that some plans can commence in the presence of baby teeth, although the orthodontist is the only person who will be able to confirm this in individual cases.

Generally, treatment that starts when baby teeth are present tends to be first phase interceptive therapy. This aims to put right harmful conditions or to make vital dental adjustments that are best carried out whilst a child is actively growing.

Such early treatment does not always remove the need for treatment on permanent teeth however. In fact, most interceptive treatment will need to be followed by second phase definitive treatment, that is, treatment that adjusts the position of the permanent teeth to enhance the appearance of the smile by straightening teeth, and by correcting an over or under bite. Definitive treatment can start, subject to the opinion of the orthodontist, either before or after all the baby teeth have been replaced.



The braces and aligners used in orthodontic treatment work by applying gentle pressure to the teeth in order to help move them into position. When the braces are first fitted, or the aligners are first worn, your teeth and gums may feel a little tender. This may also be the case when adjustments are made throughout the treatment.

Not everyone will experience the same levels of discomfort, and it should only last for a few days at the most. If you experience any particular difficulty, or the discomfort goes on beyond the first few days, give your orthodontist a call for reassurance.



Some treatments include elastics. It is very important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions when using them, otherwise you may not see the results you expected, or the treatment time may be extended.

Elastics are usually worn for a few months during the second part of the treatment to help guide teeth into the optimum biting position.


Removing or missing teeth

Sometimes it may be necessary to remove teeth as part of the treatment plan. This will only be recommended if your orthodontist strongly believes that it will significantly improve the outcome.

If on the other hand teeth are missing, the straightening treatment plan may not be as effective. Your orthodontist will explain how any missing teeth you may have could affect the end result so that you are not in any doubt as to what to expect.


Finishing and refinement

When your orthodontist is satisfied that your treatment has been successfully completed, they will focus some time on the finer detail, making certain everything is just right and that you are definitely ready to have your braces removed, or to stop wearing your aligner.

Fixed braces are easily removed by the orthodontist, who will then polish away the glue that held them in place before taking the impressions they need to make the retainer.

As long as you have followed the care instructions provided by your orthodontist and have kept to a strict oral hygiene regime, you should not experience any permanent marking to your teeth.


X-rays and records

Your orthodontist will closely monitor your treatment throughout. In order to do this, they may take x-rays. When the treatment is over, you may have a final set of x-rays taken together with more plaster-cast impressions and photographs. These records are needed to formulate your retention plan as well as to check for any tooth decay. They will also show the position of any wisdom teeth.

Your orthodontist will study the records to analyse whether any changes may occur in the future as your teeth grow or move.



A retainer is necessary at the end of the treatment to prevent your newly aligned teeth from moving. This is a crucial part of the treatment plan and it is essential that you follow the advice of your orthodontist when it comes to wearing your retainer.

Retainers are usually worn for 12 months following the end of the treatment, although this does vary and in some cases they can be worn indefinitely. They are designed to help your teeth settle into their new position, and to help your muscles and bones adapt too.


Your responsibilities during your orthodontic treatment

The importance of your co-operation throughout your orthodontic treatment cannot be over-emphasised. You will need to put in your fair share of commitment to achieving that perfect smile and oral health, but it will be worth it in the end. The best results always come with full dedication on the part of the patient.

Here’s what will be expected of you during your treatment:

  • Practice excellent oral hygiene – the healthier your teeth and mouth, the more successful your treatment will be. Always follow the advice provided when it comes to keeping your teeth and braces, aligners or retainers clean.
  • Stay healthy – good oral hygiene comes from within as well as from cleaning. Follow a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Stick to your appointments – be sure to attend all the appointments made for you, otherwise key stages in your treatment could face setbacks.
  • Follow instructions – whatever advice your orthodontist gives you, follow it.
  • Report any problems – any braces, aligners or retainers that become loose or have broken should be reported immediately.

If you don’t put the effort in and stick to these guidelines then your treatment may be hampered. The time it takes to reach your goal may increase, or you may find that the results are not quite what you’d hoped for. Worst case, the treatment may have to be stopped prematurely, a scenario you really don’t want to face. Early termination of treatment could result in problems with your teeth and gums, your jaw joints and in some cases the position of your teeth which could return back to where they were at the start.

You have a responsibility to your perfect smile, so be sure to commit yourself for the long term!


Orthodontic treatment from Surbiton Smile

At Surbiton Smile Dental Centre you will find a complete range of family and cosmetic dentistry incorporating a selection of orthodontic teeth straightening treatments. To find out what’s involved in gaining the smile you’ve always wished for, book your free consultation with Dr Ruhparwar by calling 020 8339 9333 or email smile@surbitonsmile.co.uk.

Contact Surbiton Smile Centre ® today

Please get in touch if you are concerned about any aspect of your dental health. We will treat you fairly and honestly - and we look forward to being able to help you.

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