Follow-Up Visits: What to Expect

Follow-Up Visits: What to Expect article banner

Why do I need so many follow-ups?

Frequent follow-ups, or "adjustments," are needed to replace worn-out rubber bands, check on your teeth's progress, and make adjustments to the wires to make sure teeth are being pulled in the right direction. Skipping follow-ups can hinder progress, and may cause you to need braces for a longer period of time.

How often will I have follow-up visits?

Most orthodontists see patients every 4-6 weeks.

What will they do at follow-ups?

The dentist will always replace the elastic bands on each bracket and may also take out and replace the wire. Each adjustment should only take about 20 minutes.

Will it hurt?

Possibly. Most patients are sore for anywhere from a few hours to a few days after each regular adjustment. This feeling can be anything from a mild, unpleasant pressure to more significant pain. However, any discomfort shouldn't last very long.

Changing to a stiffer archwire may also be uncomfortable until the mouth gets used to the extra pressure.

If the orthodontist decides to add auxiliaries, such as elastics or rubber bands, these can sometimes be painful at first.

To deal with any post-adjustment soreness, just return to a temporary "soft food" diet and the same pain management techniques that you used when you first got your braces.

How long do most people have braces?

Most patients wear braces for 1-3 years, so be prepared for a lot of follow-up visits. However, the length of time in braces can vary greatly for each person based on growth, the severity of the problem, and how well the patient takes care of their braces and keeps up their oral hygiene.