Orthodontic Treatment Phases

For almost two decades, Fremont, CA residents have trusted Dr. Chew to straighten their teeth. 

Did you know that orthodontic treatment happens in phases? Each phase has different milestones, requirements, and timelines. 

We carefully plan each phase of orthodontic treatment to leave you with the best results possible.

Orthodontic treatment consists of three primary phases: the planning phase, the active phase, and the retention phase. 

What Are the Phases of Orthodontic Treatment?

The phases of orthodontic treatment include planning, active treatment, and retaining desired results. 

There is more to orthodontics than simply placing appliances on your teeth for eight to 36 months. We have to evaluate your mouth and teeth, then map out a treatment plan. After this, we will apply your appliances so you can start your journey to a healthier smile.

Phase 1: Planning

The planning phase makes up most of your first visit to the orthodontist. This is when we do all the preliminary exams, take x-rays, and begin the transition into the active phase of orthodontic treatment. 

All of the examination tools and procedures listed below help your orthodontist map out an exact treatment plan. 

Visual Exam

The visual exam is the first step to ensure your mouth is healthy enough for orthodontic treatment.

It’s not unusual for patients to have issues that need addressing before orthodontic treatment can begin. Some common problems include damaged teeth or cavities that require crowns or fillings. Another common issue we will look for is periodontal disease (gum disease). All of these issues, and others, need to be addressed before starting orthodontic treatment. 

If you need work done before starting your treatment plan, don’t worry. We can get you fixed up in-office or refer you to the appropriate specialist.


X-rays help us find issues that aren’t visible on the surface. With digital x-rays and i-CAT® 3D imaging, we can determine the health of nerves, tissue, and jawbones. The imaging methods we use can produce the same results as traditional x-rays and cat scans while exposing you to significantly less radiation.

Mouth Model

For this step, we will take a mold of your mouth

With these images, we can dial in a treatment plan and give you an estimate on treatment time. It can show us exactly how certain treatments, such as braces or headgear, will affect your tooth and jaw alignment. 

Phase 2: Active

The active phase is where the magic happens. During this stage of orthodontics, we will begin moving your teeth but not necessarily with braces or Invisalign® at first. Many times, we need to prepare the teeth or jawbones first.

Depending on the type of treatment you're receiving and how severe your orthodontic issues are, the total active treatment time could be 1-3+ years. 

Prepping Teeth

In all likelihood, your teeth won’t be ready for alignment appliances on the first day. Many patients require spacers or palatal expanders to move their teeth or the supporting bone. This hardware is often necessary to get the desired results. Depending on your needs, this process could take six weeks to a year.

Applying Braces

The first step when applying your braces is to dry and disinfect your teeth so the dental glue will hold the brackets to your teeth.

Next, the brackets will be attached and precisely aligned. After the glue cures, a wire gets attached to the brackets with rubber bands.

The wire is designed to return to its natural shape when it heats up to body temperature. This means it will pull the teeth whichever way they need to move when installed.

The whole application process takes about an hour.

Applying Invisalign®

When starting Invisalign®, we will need to apply nodules to a couple of your teeth to help the aligning trays stay on your teeth better.

Regular Adjustments

Depending on your orthodontic treatment, regular adjustments and visits will vary. 

  • Braces require follow up visits every four to eight weeks

  • With Invisalign®, you'll receive a new aligner every few weeks and visit us every few months to ensure everything is progressing as planned 


Follow-up x-rays will not always be necessary, but for major adjustments, we will want to make sure your bones adapt to the changes in tooth and jaw position. If there are any issues, we may need to slow down the progression.

Phase 3: Retention

You just spent one to three years straightening your teeth, don’t you want to keep them that way? A retainer is the only way to ensure your teeth stay straight. 

There are different types of retainers that you can wear depending on your needs and preferences.


When your orthodontic treatment is complete, your teeth will naturally want to shift back to the position they were in before orthodontic treatment. To prevent this, you will need a retainer. It will keep your teeth straight and prevent you from needing additional treatment.

Continued Care

Continuing to care for your teeth is important to maintain straight teeth. Believe it or not, neglecting your teeth can cause them to shift. For example, gum disease can lead to bone loss and cause teeth to shift or fall out.

Orthodontic Treatment in Fremont, CA

If you’ve been searching for an experienced orthodontist to give you a beautiful smile, look no further. At Chew Dental, we strive to make the process as quick and easy as possible. Take the first steps to a healthier smile by booking an appointment online or calling us today!


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