Stages of Change in Braces

Before and after photos of teeth with braces

That gorgeous smile you will have after your orthodontic treatment is the culmination of many different forces and careful planning by your orthodontist. However, as important as that smile is to your self confidence and appearance, how your teeth fit together and how it relates to your overall oral health is probably more important.

This comprehensive solution to alignment and adjustment requires more than just straight teeth, and a significantly longer time frame to accomplish. It relies on an orthodontist’s expertise to make sure that your teeth also fit together as a result of your teeth moving.

First Few Months in Braces

This is what your orthodontist refers to as an “initial alignment.” During the very first stage of your life in braces—assuming that you opt for the more traditional style braces (which are more useful for more serious malocclusions)—brackets are bonded to individual teeth. In many cases, it is only the maxillary (upper) teeth brackets that are applied in this initial stage.

A low and constant pressure is applied along the archwire that is attached to the brackets which causes tension and compression on your teeth and periodontal ligaments. This causes bone around your teeth to be broken down (resorption) on one side of the tooth and created (deposition) on the other side of the tooth. You can read about how the process of braces moving teeth works here.

This pressure will help to align your teeth in fairly short period (in some cases, the results are visible within 3 months (depending on the initial state of the teeth’s alignment and if the treatment plan is followed closely). The overall tooth alignment is a requirement before your orthodontist moves forward with the lengthier part of your treatment—fitting your teeth together

Fitting It All Together

The next portion of the treatment is the longer portion of your treatment and can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. It involves correcting your bite so that your aligned teeth now fit together. The process of aligning your teeth has the knock on effect of changing the way they fit together in your mouth. In short, your bite is altered.

For this portion, braces are ordinarily applied to both the maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth to get the two sets of teeth to “fit” them and match them to one another so that your upper teeth will fit perfectly over your lower teeth. In other words, to give you a proper bite.

This involves getting a normal curve to both sets of teeth, achieving the correct angle on the teeth roots and to move the upper and lower arches into the correct position. This in done in three planes: front to back, side to side, and top to bottom.

A wider and stiffer archwire is normally used in the bite adjustment phase. Additionally, to aid in repositioning the jaw, elastics can be use in any number of configurations depending on the nature of malocclusion.

About Orthodontic Associates

Offering the convenience of nine locations around Baltimore, Orthodontic Associates uses state-of-the-art appliances and revolutionary practices to provide our patients with the most up-to-date services available today.


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