For many patients, treatment with braces can sound like a long process with many office visits and several years of eating bland, soft foods. The truth is that most treatment plans are simple, relatively short, and don’t require you to drastically change your day-to-day life. Though each patient’s process depends on the state of their oral health and physical needs, there are some consistencies across most treatment plans. 

We find that patients start to feel more comfortable with their treatment options as they learn more about the specific steps, what’s required of them, and the life-changing outcome of a masterpiece smile. If you’re considering treatment for yourself or a family member, we can help make the process of orthodontic care easily understood.

In this article, we’ve outlined the four most common steps involved during the treatment process – from your first consultation to the last checkup.


Determining When to Start


People start orthodontic treatment at many different ages and for lots of different reasons. Whether it’s due to an urgent need or a long term personal goal, orthodontic treatment can begin at almost any time. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Your orthodontist has recommended a specific age for beginning treatment to help prevent a complication from worsening.
  • A persistent oral health issue like jaw misalignment, crowding, or a speech impediment has made the decision to start treatment more pressing.
  • You or a family member are personally ready (and the timing is right) for braces to help correct your smile.


What to Expect at Your First Consultation


We offer a free consultation for all patients that are interested in learning more about their treatment options. During the consultation, we’ll contextualize and personalize the treatment process to your specific needs and answer your questions about our experience, approach, and expectations. 

Here’s a little more about what to expect when you schedule a consultation with us: 

  • A private, one-on-one discussion with Dr. Oppenhuizen.
  • A brief review of relevant medical history that might impact recommendations or decisions about your treatment. This includes an up-to-date analysis of your current oral health, and any potential complications.
  • An X-ray and pretreatment smile to help us make the best possible recommendation for your treatment plan.
  • A detailed breakdown of available treatment options to help improve your smile and oral health, including:
    • Your personal goals and level of comfort with treatment.
    • How the treatment works.
    • What to expect.
    • Timing and length of treatment.
    • Cost.

Assessing Treatment Options


In most cases, patients will ultimately be able to decide what works best for their situation, ability, and comfort level. Cost and budgeting are also a concern for many patients (particularly parents), though orthodontic treatment options are often more affordable than anticipated. Insurance options vary, but an expert consultation will help set your expectations.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering your treatment options:

  • Is it possible or likely that a persistent condition will get worse if left untreated? 
  • Could not starting treatment now cause potential health complications down the road?
  • Are you or your family member able to cope with any discomfort or lack of function that’s occurring today?
  • Are you headed into a school break where it will be easier to get accommodated to treatment before the schedule fills up again?

If you feel unsure about starting full treatment with braces, you should discuss any hesitations with your orthodontist and ask about alternatives to ensure you understand the full range of available options.


During Treatment


Patient needs and potential treatment plans can vary widely. In part, this depends on the extent of any complications or issues that might require intervention through non-standard methods or oral surgery. 

In general, patients can expect a treatment experience with braces that’s similar to the following:

  • After deciding to start treatment, your initial appointment will be scheduled for the application of braces.
  • It takes about 1-2 hours to apply braces, depending on whether you are receiving both upper and lower sets. Plus, your teeth need to be clean and dry for the adhesive to work properly.
  • Once the braces are applied, monthly checkups are routine in most cases. During these appointments, Dr. Oppenhuizen will check to make sure the braces are working properly, look at the positioning of the teeth, and make any adjustments needed to help with your comfort or the effectiveness of the treatment.
  • Though most patients have few to no issues with their braces, small things like a loose wire or bracket might cause you to stop the office more than once a month for a quick adjustment.

When the braces come off, we work with our in house lab to fit patients with a permanent retainer that same day. Unlike braces, permanent retainers are virtually unnoticeable to both the patient and others. This retainer provides a lifetime of support to keep your teeth looking great and preserve the new masterpiece smile that you’ve worked hard to achieve.

Dr. Oppenhuizen can help you understand the best course of post-treatment care, depending on your personal comfort level and needs.


Take Your First Step Today


You can easily and quickly schedule a consultation by calling either our Zeeland or Holland offices, or by using the 3-step process with our SmileSnap app to submit your information. We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping you start the journey to a lifetime of more confident smiling!